Friday, August 7


How to Overcome Your Employment Gap
Ten Tips for the Stay-at-Home Parent and More

By Okoroji Victor.

Concerned about getting back in the workforce after a gap in your employment? You should be when you consider the bad experiences some employers have had when they take a chance on people with a gap in their employment history. Additionally, the job market appears to have qualified candidates for most positions. How will your resume, with a one, five, or ten year employment gap, stack up against those of people who have been racking up career achievements and accomplishments for the same ten years?

Stay-at-home moms and dads who raise their children, rather than their expertise and visibility in a workplace, are the largest group to sport these resume gaps. Even a couple of years out of the workforce can devastate your career if you’re not careful. In worse case scenarios, you can become unemployable in your field. Even in best case scenarios, you will undoubtedly take a salary cut and find yourself reporting to someone who would formerly have reported to you.

This is not to say that returning to work is hopeless. There are plenty of people who have walked back into an executive job, developed their dream job or created a career change following chosen unemployment. It’s just that it’s harder for you with an employment gap. These tips will help you stay ready for employment while you raise the kids or take a few years for a non-work activity. It’s much better to spend that time preparing to be employable than to hit the job market cold after years at home. You'll be better prepared if you heed these tips.

Tips for Staying Employable During an Employment Gap

* Work With Your Current Employer: Your current employer, assuming you are still working, may value you and your experience. Talk with your employer to identify potential part-time or consulting work or periodic assignments you can do during the years you plan to work less than full time. If you work in marketing, for example, perhaps you can do freelance work on brochures, the website or press releases. If you work in Human Resources, you may contract to update the employee handbook annually or teach a class periodically. This is the easiest way to stay grounded in the workplace during an extended leave. Make your best pitch before you leave your job. Don't hesitate to call, however, even if you have been off work for a period of time.

* Build and Keep Your Network Before You Need It
: It is easier to maintain current professional contacts than to build a new group a few years down the road. Professional contacts become dispersed to new positions; mentors retire; valued coworkers move on to new jobs. It is up to you to maintain relationships, sometimes for years, with people who will remember your talents when you decide to return to full-time employment. It is also imperative that you relate to friends and associates in your off-work life as an educated professional who has chosen to take time away from her career to raise a family. Talk about more than the children; make sure your friends know what you do professionally as well.

* Stay Active in Professional Associations: Most career fields have professional associations that sponsor meetings, conferences, committees, training sessions and more for members. Stay active in your local association by attending meetings, writing for the newsletter, acting as a good will ambassador and attending national conferences. Volunteer for the activities that most closely match your career field and interests. Choose activities in which you’ll interact with many members to expand your network at the same time.

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