[ Laughter, ], hey everyone and welcome to the jobcast. Today we are discussing how to get back to work after an employment gap, whether you've, been unemployed for 10 weeks or 10 years. I'm excited to introduce our guest speaker today.
Jennifer gary jennifer has over 25 years of non-profit management and public administration experience as director of workforce development at goodwill columbus. She provides strategic and administrative leadership for all workforce training, programs and personnel, and that's.
Me brandi warwice. I'm, a manager on indeed's. Jobseeker experience team. We're responsible for creating helpful resources like this job cast for our users, like you, take it away: jennifer hi everyone, as brandy noted, my name is jennifer gary.
I'm with goodwill columbus, and i'm excited to be a part of the jobcast today, the most fulfilling part of my job is probably being able to connect with our clients, who are job seekers and, ironically enough, over the course Of the last two or three weeks i've, been a part of mock interviews, and so it's really given me an opportunity to be front line and hear some great questions in and provide some great feedback to our job seekers.
About how to explain their employment gaps, so i think it's really timely for me to have had that experience and to be able to join you today. So let's. Talk about our learning objectives! Today we're, going to be talking about your employment gap, formatting your resume around the gap and then preparing to enter the workforce.
An employment gap is any time in which a person is not employed at a job. This period of time can be weeks months or even years, depending on the person's situation, people could have had an employment gap for a number of reasons, including going back to school, staying home with children or even traveling during the covid19 pandemic, more People than ever have lost their jobs as a direct result of the closure requirements that all non-essential employers have faced.
This unprecedented time will result in millions of individuals having employment gaps on their resumes. So if you have a gap in employment history on your resume, the first thing to know - and one of the most important things is you're, not alone.
According to the bureau of labor statistics, the vast majority of people 90 in fact, have been unemployed at some point in their working age, lives, unemployment, gaps and short-term jobs are common among working-age people and sometimes just an explanation.
Lace and humility can serve you quite well. Based on, indeed, research and interviews with employers, a gap on a resume is not a deal breaker. If the candidate is qualified for the rule, life happens and employers understand that if you have a gap in your work, history just be prepared to talk about it.
In an honest, yet professional way take the time beforehand to work out how you can address the gap in a way that projects, confidence and positivity you want to be truthful without giving in to unnecessary detail a basic template for your answer could be i and state The reason you were unemployed and then talk about during that time what you did during the gap, the last statement could be returning to work was top of mind during that period, and i'm ready to do that now.
Having a prepared answer will help you feel more confident as you answer the question, but it also means that you're, going to exude confidence and that's, going to impress the employer that you're a right fit For a job, so let's.
Take a quick pull. What is your reason for an employment gap left to be a caregiver laid off by your employer, fired from your job, took time off for personal reasons, laid off due to covet 19 or other reasons, and so it looks like 12 left to be a caregiver 22 Percent were laid off by your employer.
8 fired from your job, 16 took time off for personal reasons and 23. The largest were laid off due to covet 19 and 17 had other reasons. I think these are pretty common answers, especially in the time that we're living in with a global pandemic.
So let's, go ahead and take a look at some other information, so some explanations in terms of your gap in employment, one could be that you left to be a caregiver for either children or aging parents.
We have multiple life roles with competing priorities, and now you are making your career priority. For example, you could say something to the effect of i spent some time as the primary caregiver in my family.
During that time i was able to be there for my family, but i always knew i wanted to return to work now. I'm ready to do that. It's very simple. It's very straightforward, but it's. Also brief: another high-ranking one was laid off by your employer, so it is important to keep a positive tone.
It is common today for organizations to restructure. So, for example, one answer could be: my former employer underwent a restructuring that resulted in my position being eliminated. While this was difficult, i left with the confidence that i had developed important skills there and built strong relationships with my managers and colleagues.
Sometimes i think the easiest way to describe what we do at goodwill and - and you know how we can help people explain those gaps in employment - is by using examples. So josh is the past client with goodwill columbus.
He came to us in january of 2020. He had been laid off as a graphic designer, and he talked to her. I t team about making a career change, felt that he wanted to stay in i.t, but wanted to do something that would allow him to work remotely and earn a better wage.
He enrolled with our a plus credential class and within 12 weeks, had completed the course. As a result, he networked with employers. We used ourselves as references and we connected with his other employers.
We were able to help josh get a job in central ohio with the leading employer and he doubled his income and he was able to work remotely to stay home with a young family. So josh utilized all the resources at his fingertips and maintained a positive attitude and also took an opportunity to upskill to start a new career so kudos to josh.
It was wonderful working with him, so maybe you were let go by your employer, so you also could have taken that time to reflect upon how you could grow from the experience. For example, the company and i had different expectations and reflecting on that experience i realize there are some things i could have done differently.
I learned a great deal and i'm excited about the opportunity to bring that maturity to my next job. So you were provided a very honest answer. You admitted that there had been a difference of expectations, but it was important that you noted a level of self-awareness and that self-awareness is key in what you're, bringing to your next employer.
It's also possible to take time off, for personal reasons and and during that time engage in activities that provide opportunities for learning and growth, for example, your answer could be. I was able to take some time off work to focus on myself.
It was a time that prepared me to take on new challenges, and i'm incredibly excited about the opportunities that lie ahead, such as this position. So you're exuding enthusiasm for the position that's open and you're, not providing too much detail.
However, there are many reasons for taking time off. You could have taken time to travel to care for family members to remodel a home, but the important thing is to be concise in your answer: excited about the next opportunity, but also to share only the information you're comfortable with laid off to Cover 19, that's very common right now is one of the highest scores on the pool, so it's, important to communicate, resilience and determination to move forward.
For example, my employer underwent a downsizing due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic that resulted in my position being eliminated. It was difficult, but i left with the confidence that i had developed, important skills there and built strong relationships with my managers and colleagues due to the unprecedented times that we live in.
This is a very common conversation thread during interviews. It's. A great time to provide a summary of skills that you have been able to acquire over the past years and even in your last position and then how those can help.
You move forward in this new position that you're interviewing for it's, also time to really think about. Maybe a career change, and so we've recently worked with my mom, who had been an executive assistant for five years and really saw the connection between the skills that she had as an executive assistant and maybe something where she would have the opportunity To work remotely in a lead role as a customer service representative, so she took the time to take our work.
Readiness, training work with our career consultants to find the right placement and she's. Seeking that balance for herself as her child is learning remotely at home, she would like the opportunity to be at home and help her child, but also working at the same time.
So we're still working with her on finding right fit, but it was a great time of discovery for her and we were able to offer her the skills to make that move in addition to knowing how to explain employment gaps.
You should also know where to explain them. Indeed,'s, research showed that employers generally agree that gaps will be discussed during the initial phone screening interview, but some preferred to see the gaps explained beforehand in the resume or cover letter.
That way, they may be able to avoid judgment based on unanswered questions about the gaps explaining employment gaps in your cover letter and resume also shows recruiters and hiring managers that you are honest and trustworthy, which can help make you stand out from other candidates.
In the current pool, so let's. Talk about formatting your resume around an employment gap. Next, you need to determine whether your employment gap needs to be included on your resume. It is not always necessary to include every job you have had on your resume.
If you are a professional who has several years of experience and your employment gap occurred early in your career, it may not be necessary in the job that you had before your gap. In employment generally, you should only include your most recent and most relevant job experiences in the employment section of your resume.
Once you determine which jobs you need to include in your resume, you can determine which employment gaps you need to explain. Next, if the gaps in your employment, history are only small gaps that occurred in between jobs.
You can downplay these gaps by omitting the month and the date of each experience instead simply list the years you were employed in each position. However, this method of downplaying gaps in employment on your resume usually only works.
Well, if the length of the gaps are less than a year in length, and you worked in each position for a period of more than one year, for example, if you were employed in one position from august 2015 through january 2017 and didn't Begin your next job until 2017, you can downplay this employment gap by listing the dates of your last or your first job as 2015 to 2017, and subsequently the dates of your next job as 2017.
To present. However, while this can help you with the initial consideration round with your resume, you will likely still be asked about specific questions or dates during the interview, so be prepared with an explanation for your gap in a positive manner.
Next, you can also try to make employment gaps. Look less obvious by using your resume style or format such as the functional resume format. A functional resume format focuses more on your skills and achievements than on your experience.
You can include sections in your resume, such as career, summary statement and key accomplishments to help make the positive experiences you have. The primary focus of your resume then include your employment section toward the end of your resume.
If you look at the example on the screen, they do a great job of building that summary the areas of experience and then your skills so that you can move down through the employer and just simply look at the year.
But it really promotes your best foot forward by the skills that you've attained certificates that you & # 39, ve, earned key areas of accomplishment again putting yourself and the skills up front and make them more noticeable.
You will usually need to address longer periods of gap in employment more directly in your resume than you need to with small employment gaps. If you have an employment gap that was more than a period of one year, then this gap will still need to be obvious.
On your resume, even with only listing the years or when using a functional, resume format, you can overcome this by including what you were doing during your employment gap in your experience section as if it were a job itself.
However, you can keep the entry brief, so it doesn't distract the person reviewing your resume from more relevant work experience. For example, if you spent four years as a stay-at-home parent until your child was ready for preschool, then you can include this time.
In your experience, section like this full-time parent atlanta, georgia 2008-2011 took time away from professional career to raise young children and manage the household again relaying those organizational skills with a brief period or a brief explanation of the period of time is very helpful.
If you can relate the experience you gain during your employment gap into the position you are applying for, then it may be beneficial to include more detailed information in your employment gap entry.
You can include specific examples of daily activities and responsibilities. You had during your employment gap that are relevant to the duties or responsibilities of the position you're, applying for, for example, if you have an employment gap of two years, because you took time off work to be a full-time caregiver for an elderly.
Relative and you are applying for a position as a nurse the employment gap. Entry in your experience section may look a little more like this full-time caregiver fort lauderdale. Florida 2017-2019 took time away from professional career to act as a full-time caregiver to an elderly.
Relative assisted relative with daily tasks such as feeding bathing dressing and grooming administered medications, as prescribed three times daily, checked vital signs on a regular basis to gauge recovery process.
Again. What a great way to fill in the gap and explain what you're doing and relate those skills to the position you're. Applying for your cover letter is a great place to explain significant gaps in employment, because it allows you to go into detail about how you used your time unemployed, to prepare to return to the workforce, if possible, find a way to highlight how these gaps strengthen you.
As a candidate, just like i mentioned earlier, a basic template for this is starting with the reason you were not employed, followed by what you did during the gap. As you might have noticed in my resume, i took a year sabbatical from 2016 to 2017 to travel across europe and asia.
This experience strengthened my understanding of market and its needs, and i'd love the opportunity to share those insights with you. I look forward to learning more about the position and your organization's, vision for this role.
Thank you for your time and consideration again what a great example to provide insight into how and why the gap occurred, but also as a great conversation starter. So when the interview occurs, they're, going to ask questions and you're, going to have an answer prepared again.
It's, confidence and positivity, and once you get to the interview, employers are likely going to touch upon your gap. If it is noticeable again, you want to follow some general rules be truthful, but brief, explain why you're unemployed, explain what you did during the gap.
Stay optimistic about your return to work. Once you & # 39, ve addressed the gap and explain what you did during that time. Steer the conversation back to your desire and the ability to do the job you're applying for you can do this by asking a question of your interviewer.
Once you've answered their question, sometimes reasons for time. Away from work are personal and something you'd, like to you'd, prefer to keep quiet you don't need to go into detail about what caused your employment gap, but you should give specifics on how you spent That time, if the conversation continues in a direction you're, not comfortable with you have the option of saying i prefer not to go into any more detail.
I am very interested in sharing experience details about my work experience. However, from there you can either supply another anecdote from your work experience that makes you qualified for the position or ask another type of question.
If it goes further and you are uncomfortable, you may consider ending the interview at any time by saying i'm, not comfortable with where or how our conversation is evolving. So this may not be the right fit.
Thank you for your time. It gives you a graceful exit well at the same time being respectful to the employer and hoping that you can steer the conversation back on track at some point preparing to re-enter the workforce.
The first thing you should do to explain employment gaps on your resume is to try to spend the time you were unemployed, preparing yourself for returning to work. You can do this by using the time for professional development, such as earning certificates relevant to your industry.
Taking continuing education courses being active in professional associations and spending time doing volunteer or contract work doing this can help you give positive experiences. You can use to fill employment gaps when writing your resume.
This actually happened to me personally about five years ago. I worked for a program that was federally funded. The program ended the funding stopped and i found myself an employment gap of about six months, so i really used the time to do some contract work and volunteer experience to help me build that gap.
In my resume to talk about the fundraising events that i chaired to talk about the marketing committee that i was a chair for at my daughter's school. So those kinds of activities that again help you parlay that gap into workable experience for your next position.
If you & # 39, ve built a network of professional contacts throughout your career, now is the time to use it, reach out to people in your network and inquire about open jobs in your field and whether they would be willing to put in a good word.
For you, with the potential employers that's very important, going into a job interview with the recommendation from a trusted professional in your field can help increase your chances of being seen in a positive light.
Despite the employment gaps at goodwill, we stay in touch with our job seekers from one year from the date of employment. So once once a month, our career consultants reach out to them, either via text, email or voicemail or phone, and talk directly with them about how they're.
Doing is it time to upskill? Is it time to look for new opportunities? If you're not currently working, can we help you re-engage with our network to help you find a job, so we constantly work with them on what it means to network for themselves, but we also start with our own team of networking within workforce Development to help them in a time of need many job updates ask for professional references who can vouch for your ability to perform the job that you're applying for, if you can list your most recent employer as well as other employers, you've previously worked for as references.
It will definitely show hiring managers that you still have a good relationship with these employers and did not leave or get laid off for negative reasons, and if the hiring manager calls your recent employers a reference, the employer can explain to the hiring manager that you were For example, laid off due to covid our career consultants at goodwill, work with many clients to receive work, readiness, training and credential training for up to six months before they were placed in employment.
We find it very very fulfilling and important that we act as a character. Reference for them so as they're starting their career either in their first job or their next best job. We are acting as a character reference with our network of folks vouching for them and helping them get that first opportunity to interview for a position well having an employment gap can be challenging when applying for jobs.
It's, important to remain diligent. If you aren't hired for the first jobs you apply for remember, employers are also trying to sort out the best steps to take for their business, so sometimes that can affect their hiring timelines, set a daily or weekly application goal to stay.
On top of relevant opportunities and then reward yourself in small, meaningful ways when you & # 39, ve met your goal: stay patient and positive by taking breaks, practicing, self-care and investing in skill development as you search for your next best job.
And, of course, if you need more help with the transition or finding work, talk to your local goodwill, career center goodwills across the country operate independently, but all focused on some type of work, readiness and employment opportunity to find a goodwill career center near you check out These sites to find out how goodwill can help more than happy to talk with you further.
Thank you jennifer. So before we move into q a i want to introduce my indeed colleague, anne-marie tucker, who has experience coming back to work after an employment gap. So she's, going to be helping to answer your questions and marie.
Do you want to give everyone a little background about you sure, thanks brandi um, i'm, excited to be here and participating with you all. I'm anne-marie tucker. I work for indeed, as associate site lead in our austin office.
I'm, also a mom to four beautiful children who are now 14, 12, 10 and 8. when they were babies. I had the opportunity to pause. My professional career, in order to focus on our growing family, is a primary caregiver uh fast forward to a couple of years ago, and i found myself ready to return to work um only now i had an eight year gap on my resume, and so, as was Just discussed, i had a lot of these questions and self-doubts um i didn't know how to address the gap on my resume.
I didn't, know uh how to value myself um. Probably more importantly, there were things that i had questions about, such as you know. I really craved the flexibility that i had received um and that would let me balance the needs of my family.
But i was super hesitant to ask about those policies, because i didn't want to seem less dedicated or less competent than other candidates, and so admittedly, my journey was pretty challenging uh. But i'm, really proud of where i am today and i'm excited to share the insights of my experience with all of you thanks anne marie.
So now let's. Look at some of the top questions that came in so first should i address employment gaps directly on my resume or leave that for the interview if asked so, we touched a little bit on this during the presentation if it is a significant enough gap that you Can't, hide it or make it a little less obvious on your resume by changing by just showing the year, then it probably is helpful to address it in your resume or a cover letter just so that employers aren't.
You know just trying to guess at what was happening during that time: okay, so the next one, how to explain a gap due to mental illness. Jennifer have you uh worked with any job seekers that have that we have? We have.
We talked about a couple of those instances just this past week, and so what we were very open with is that it was a period of time where i had to seek treatment um for in some most cases. Again i go back to the adage.
I should have started with. I apologize share. What information you're comfortable with. I think you can address it very honestly and let them know that you had to take some time off to seek treatment um and if you wish to share that it was mental health related you can, you can leave it at treatment and that you are now Ready to go back to the workforce, you're feeling stronger than ever, and you're ready to go, and i think that again it's.
Only sharing what you're comfortable with thanks jennifer the next one here is: how do you explain a gap from covid19 for over five months and um, as the poll showed, that's, a situation? A lot of you are dealing with, um are a gap caused by the pandemic, and i think in general you know everyone's going through this pandemic together, and so any explanation you give about you know if you, your company, downsized during the time Or your industry took a hit, i think it'll, be um well understood by the employer, since they are seeing uh the current economy and the situation as well.
Jennifer and marie have anything to add. We have a lot of people who are applying for a few open positions that we have and again they're. Just being very honest about. I was laid off due to covet 19 during the interview anytime, that you can offer the name and number of your past employer as a reference that they could call immediately.
That speaks volume to volumes to your integrity, and i think that would eliminate any concern that they would have over the elongated period of time. Definitely, how do you know if an employment gap is causing you to not get an interview yeah? I think uh this one's, an interesting question, because there's, really no great way to know if it's causing you to not get an interview.
One of the things that i did try to do is when i had the opportunity to talk to recruiters. If there wasn't a good fit, i often solicited feedback for why to get an understanding if it was related to my gap and so that i could make adjustments to my resume.
Specifically, that would help explain where they had doubt. You know you have to rely on getting those at least initial phone screens to be able to get that kind of feedback, but definitely ask for it.
So you can see how you can make the adjustments that's. Great advice thanks our next question. I was told that resume scanning software will eliminate you as a candidate if you have a gap that's more than one year so should we list the gap as a job entry, for instance sabbatical with an explanation so that we don't get eliminated to reiterate what jennifer said during the presentation that you know.
If what you were doing during that time, can you very clearly be uh put into you know expressing how that experience improved you as a candidate for the position, then i would say, definitely put it on your resume.
I'm, not familiar with the fact that technology would, you know, weed you out if you have a gap of more than one year uh. I think that might might not be true just because people don't always include every job.
On their resume um but jennifer, have you experienced anything like that? I haven't um. We work with a lot of big employers in central ohio and to date we've, never been told by anybody that there would be something like that that would occur.
So i i agree that if, if it's work, if it's relevant skills to positions you're applying for, then i would enter those if it's. Not then, i think i would mention it in the cover letter, but i don't know of any software that excludes you for that good to know uh.
So next question here i am being told i'm overqualified, but i need a job and realize i'm seeking a lower role. How do i mitigate their concern? Any suggestions? Jennifer? I have a good friend who's, going through the situation right now, and so my advice to her has been this.
Sometimes we are seeking life change and that can be for a better balance between personal and professional, and i think you're, honest with people and saying it may appear that i'm overqualified. I'm.
Looking for a new challenge, i'm starting over in maybe a different path, and i realize that there's, going to be a learning time period where i need to learn and grow in the position that's. The reason i'm seeking something lesser of a role and hoping that we can work together to make that happen.
I wanted to add to that because i encountered this as well upon returning um and i think that that framing what you hope to get out of the specific role that you're applying for so focusing on the positive elements of how you can Develop in in that role, even though that it may be lower, you may be overqualified for it that helps them to understand your commitment to that specific role.
So the next one here, how do you explain a combo gap uh so due to layoff, sabbatical and covid19 um so likely? You know they were either laid off or took a sabbatical and then covet 19 hit and made it a lot harder to get back to work either in that role or uh in a new role and again, i think that's, something that's, unfortunately, pretty common right now and i would reiterate the advice, um of just being honest about you know what caused the gap.
What you know why you couldn't, get back to work uh on the schedule that you had planned, but you know making sure that you make it clear that you've, filled the gap and that you're. You're, ready to get back back out there.
Another question how to explain a family leave gap of five years. Anne marie. Do you want to take that sure yeah? I think that uh jennifer gave some really good advice in the earlier presentation and i actually applied a combination of those types of things, particularly if it was if your family leave was related to younger children, as jennifer said, identify the things that you were doing that Were valuable in that time, so, similarly, i did a lot of volunteer work with my children's schools and was able to highlight um those things that i were doing that were directly related to the fact that i had taken leave um but also Showed that i was you know helping in our community and things like that show demonstrable skills um that contributed to my resume outside of the gap.
The next question here is: how can i explain a gap due to chronic health issues? I don't want to scare a new employer out of hiring me due to my health, that's, a good question. Jennifer, have you dealt with that situation? We have we & # 39, ve had actually applicants who have come in with chronic health conditions, and they've been very upfront about the condition they & # 39.
Ve talked through some of the reasons why they would have had that gap explaining to some degree some of the medical procedures that would have caused them again, nothing in too great of detail, but just helping them to understand what you had went through with treatment, um And then i think the other thing is just as ann marie had mentioned earlier.
Really, you know putting your best foot forward and explaining how you are ready to go back to work, and you know just that you are ready willing. You know you feel that you have received treatment and you're on the road to recovery and also you know you might even mention that your doctor has suggested that this is a great way to further your recoveries, get back to work, to help With self-confidence um and keep your emotions in a positive state, great tip, why are gaps bad in the first place? That's, a great question and you know i want to be clear that gaps aren't bad as a whole um.
It's more just about being able to prove to employers that your skills, didn't get stale during that time that you're, keeping up um with best practices in your industry and that you are prepared to go Back to work, because you know after a period of time, you know you might be in a different mindset than you would be if you were going to the office or working from home on a regular basis, um anything to add ann marie jennifer.
About your experience, you know with gaps yourself, and you know how that you could position that as a positive. My gap was rather short five years ago, so i don't feel that there was a long enough time to where um i was probably overlooked for something, but the question did come up in every interview.
So again i was brief. I was honest and to the point, from an employer's perspective when i'm, reviewing resumes gaps, don't necessarily scare me off from an applicant. I feel that i want to talk more to them, because the skill set before or after the gap is consistent and it really matches the job qualifications that i'm.
Looking for i want to have that conversation at least a phone screen to ask them the question and have them walk me through their employment history, and hopefully they address the gap. Great so many layoffs applying several places and they don't hire you for fear of salary.
How should you deal when salary is lower than your experience? So i take it. Basically, you know trying to get back into working and you know you have to take a pay cut, which is probably something a lot of people are dealing with, especially during the pandemic right now.
Jennifer do you have any thoughts? I always ask the question in a phone screen: what's, your salary range, so that we can have a conversation about what is realistic and then i think in that conversation walk through with them their expectations.
What we're able to offer and see where you can meet in the middle? I think if you're honest with an applicant up front again, i think if they say it's lower than i was taking before. Um or received before in a salary, but i'm.
Okay with that, and we have that conversation. Then again it doesn't scare me away from an applicant, and i think that it's. A good conversation to have up front thanks, um and then i'll. Take one more question that we got via email um.
If, during an employment gap, you undertook some sporadic freelance work, is it better to put that on your resume rather than having a gap um and my take on this is absolutely especially if the freelance work was in your desired field.
It just shows that you are still using those skills and building your expertise and experience during that time, and it can probably help you during the interview. You know tell your story a little bit better to include that as well, anything to add jennifer ann marie yeah.
I just wanted to agree wholeheartedly. I'm, a big proponent of um contract opportunities, helping you to re-enter. I actually re-entered the workforce via a contract, opportunity, um, and so i think that demonstrating those skills and showing that you were working and committed and contributing helps to mitigate a lot of the the risks and concerns that people have with gaps.
So i think you should absolutely include them, particularly where the skills are relevant to the job you're seeking. I absolutely agree with both of you. It's, a great point that again, it shows a very dedicated candidate to pursuing.
You know their interest in keeping their skills, sharp, yeah and and just to build on that. Actually, i would encourage people, you know if your industry is one where you can do that sort of freelance work in the meantime, you know whether it's during your gap.
If you have the ability to um to spend time towards that, you know get continue doing that work, even if it is just on a short term or contract basis, um or if it's, volunteering just being able to to continue uh.
Some element of that work will benefit you when you get back into the workforce, so that's all the time we have for q a today, but thank you for all of those great questions. If you found this uh jobcast to be helpful check out our other jobcasts and that's at slash go.
indeed.com for the latest information from indeed follow us on social media uh, a huge thanks to jennifer and anne marie for sharing their wisdom today and Thanks for watching and don't forget to like subscribe and comment below you.