Twenty or even 10 years ago, a career break was unheard of, let alone commonly accepted. If you indicated taking a career break in your resume, chances were you would have received a raised eyebrow and a stern, “don’t call us, we’ll call you”. Nowadays, the concept of a career break or a gap year is much more accepted, and certainly more commonplace. Workers take career breaks for a variety of reasons, and if you’ve got a gap in your resume, there’s always a reason, and with some careful consideration, you can explain the gap in your resume in a way that is not only reasonable, but also positive.
1. Be Honest
Why did you take a break from the workforce? People take career breaks for a variety of reasons, and most of them can be well regarded with an open and honest explanation which focuses on the core values that you would posses as an employee. If you left work to care for a family member, focus on the fact that you are a caring and loyal person. If you left a job to travel, mention that you are independent and open to new experiences. If you left work to start your own business, you are innovative and adventurous, and know how to back yourself.
2. Reflect on the Experience
What did you gain from your career break? What did you learn? How has it changed you as a person? If you are returning to work after parental leave, I bet you’ve learnt all about multitasking, and learnt a new definition of ‘tired’! If you’ve just returned home from backpacking around the world, you might have learnt how to be self-sufficient, adhere to a strict budget, and cope in novel and unfamiliar situations. If you had less grandiose reasons for leaving the workplace, for example redundancy, you might talk about the resilience you discovered within yourself during that rough time.
3. Be Forward-Thinking
Once you’ve explained the reason behind your career break and how it has made you a more employable person, make a clear link between your career break and your future career plans. Even though your break may not have been planned, practice explaining the transition from your break to your new job in a way that flows logically.
By addressing these three factors in your cover letter or interview, you have the opportunity to sell your career break to your advantage, rather than end up on the back foot. If you’re re-entering the workforce after a break, a recruitment agency can be a good place to start, for example One Key Resources. With a bit of preparation, you will be well equipped to keep your cool even in the most grilling of interviews.