By Ronnie Green, Career Coach
If you’ve ever visited London, you’ve heard the ubiquitous phrase, “Mind the Gap!” Of course, that caution is referring to stepping safely aboard the amazing London underground transportation system.
Well, in the world of work, this phrase has a different meaning. More people today who are trying to enter, or return to, the workforce have gaps in their resumes. They are really concerned about how potential employers will view them and whether they can ever “catch up” after these lapses in their work history. If this describes you, here is some advice to help you move forward.
First of all, you will want to do a self-evaluation. Ask yourself: What have I been doing during this time away from the job? I’m sure that you have not been sitting around eating bonbons and just watching television. Many of us have self-doubts and we may minimize experience we have that is actually relevant to the work world. We may have a negative internal dialog going on in our head that tells us: “I am just a housewife” or “just a stay at home dad,” or “I was just a secretary…receptionist….busboy…dog walker…”
I challenge you to look at it differently. There is no such thing as “just a.” Have you been volunteering for your congregation or a local organization? Are you writing or editing a community newsletter? Are you active in your child’s school PTA? Have you been managing care for a loved one, raising a child with special needs, or serving as an advocate for an aging parent? These activities all require important skills that you may have been exercising and that could prove useful in the job market.
Secondly, research careers online and try to match your skills with those that are necessary in jobs that interest you. A great resource is www.GatewayToCareers.com. Look at the descriptions and try to find some of the same skills that you’ve been doing — just in a different environment. These skills are often transferable to other careers. If you don’t have the skills for a job you are interested in, think about how to get the skills that you don’t have right now. Perhaps you could attend a class or take a webinar.
If you are lucky enough to land an interview, you will probably be asked to answer a challenging question like, “Why have you been out of work so long?” or “What have you been doing during your time away from work?” You can take a deep breath and proudly tell them that you have been volunteering and/or taking classes to build important skills. You can also assure them, with confidence in yourself, that if they give you a chance, they will have a motivated, talented and hard-working employee. That statement should keep your candidacy still in the running.
It can feel like a scary new world out there, but I encourage you, please don’t be anxious or afraid! Searching for a job is not so bad if you take it step by step and understand how to make the most of your strengths and experience. You have strong skills, the ability to learn, and the motivation to make a change. Don’t just “mind the gap.” Embrace it and take that train to your future!
By Ronnie Green, Career Coach, JCS Career Center
JCS offers a full range of career services. For more information about the JCS Career Center click here or call 410-466-9200.