Though your resume may look spot on and communicate you have the right type of experience and education, a potential employer may see gaps between your positions upon closer inspection.
Short space (i.e., one to three months) is explainable; usually, it takes a while to find a new job or relocate for your new position. Otherwise, use a letter of introduction to address employment gaps.
The more significant time gaps or the re-occurrence of large gaps worry employers. They wonder if you are reliable or just a job hopper. The reader may classify you as a job hopper if you have numerous short-lived jobs.
If you might be viewed as a job hopper, leaving some of your shorter terms out of your resume may be a good idea. If you held a full-time job and a short-term position, this does not convey the same job-hopping message. It’s okay to leave that short-term job on the resume, provided it’s relevant, and you have extra space.
Gaps in Work History
The cover letter provides an excellent opportunity to explain holes in your work history, particularly if you return to the workforce from several years of leave.
There are many reasons a person may need time off: medical (self or family member), education, the birth of a child, or choosing a different career path. Your reasons are your own, and to you, they were necessary. Some employers may not view these reasons in the same positive light.
Every one of us can relate to the severe illness or death of a loved one. Employers should be compassionate enough to understand they must take a few years off to help a disabled parent or spend some time with a terminally ill loved one.
Be honest in your cover letter, but keep the details short, for example:
“I left the workforce from 2014-2015 to assist my aging father. Since then, he has moved to the appropriate care facility. I’m now able to get back to my career and give it my full attention”.
Explaining that you were out of the workforce for two years to complete your Master’s Degree is relatively easy. Since having a higher education is an admirable trait, mentioning it again in your cover letter will not hurt. On the other hand, some tricky topics should seem pretty straightforward but require a bit of finesse.
Staying at Home to Raise Children
Not everyone will place a stay-at-home parent as a top job candidate.
The decision-maker could wonder if you will take an extended leave if you have another child. Use your cover letter to address this issue right away.
You could write that where you lived, there was no chance of hiring a babysitter; the primary schools had a horrible reputation, so you thought you would give them a good education at home; you wanted to spend the first few years with your child, as they are the most precious years.
After giving your reason, you want to assure the potential employer you are 100% committed to returning to the workplace and are excited and eager to return to your dream career.
Not Knowing Which Path to Take
This phase can happen at any age. It may occur during college or university or once you enter your first or second career. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to find yourself and developing the traits needed to succeed in your chosen field. A few employers may think you have your head in the clouds, don’t know what you want, or will leave this job after only a few months because it wasn’t the right fit.
In your cover letter, explain you worked toward X career but realized it was not as rewarding or enjoyable as you thought it would be. After researching, you determined what role would make you happy and begin this new career path.
Need additional help? Reach out to Candace for assistance!