A gap in employment is defined as a period of months or years when a job applicant is not employed at a job. You might be experiencing a gap due to paternity or maternity leave, child-rearing, illness, caring for a loved one, previous job loss, or attending school.
Employers want to know what you as an applicant have been doing prior to applying for a position with their company. Unfortunately for you as a job seeker, gaps in employment often carry a stigma. According to Glassdoor, the cost of hiring an employee in the United States is about $4,000, and each position takes about 52 days to fill. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) studies predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months of salary on average; for example, a manager making $40,000 a year would cost $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses. Since past behavior predicts future behavior, employers want to have a good indication that you plan to stay with their company long-term.
If you have been out of the workforce due to illness, child-rearing, or difficulty in getting a job, don’t despair. The best way to present this information to your future employers is to be straight-forward, explain the situation, and let the employer know how it has been rectified and won’t occur again. For example, if you have been off of work to care for an elderly parent or young children, explain how you have found other means of care for the parent or child.
Gaps of three months or less do not raise as many eyebrows, but the longer the gap, the more difficult it might be for you to regain your career. So many things can change over time in the workplace that it takes a while to get back into the swing of working, updating your skills, and getting up to speed on technology.
Most importantly, present yourself and the job gap in an authentic way with a positive attitude. Employers typically frown on interviewing a candidate who presents a victim mentality or negativity.
Here are ways that you can update your skills for the job market and revamp your resume after a job gap:
Temporary Positions or Internships: These positions offer a trial period for both the employer and you to try each other on. The first 60 – 90 days provides a first impression that indicates how successful you will be in that job. Employers who employ workers through temporary agencies might offer you full-time employment after a brief period of time.
Volunteer: Committing regular hours and duties with a non-profit organization will help you increase your job skills, visibility, and might even garner you a letter of reference. Plus, you will be networking with others who share your idealism to help your community.
Training or Classes: You might consider taking additional training or college courses to update your skills and increase opportunities. Colleges often host career fairs, too, so yet another way for you to meet that future employer.
Interim Job: You might consider taking a job for which you are over-qualified to show employers that you are dependable and motivated. The best interim jobs offer ways for growth within the same organization, so it is recommended to stick with the same company for development opportunities and upward mobility.