How to effectively tackle your job search after a hiatus.
When leaving the workforce, whether it be to raise a child, take a break, or take care of a parent, the employment gap leaves hiring managers with questions. One of their biggest questions: do you still have what it takes to be an integral part of their team? The answer often is yes, but how do you convince the employer to take a chance on an interview and potential career transition? The answers are easier than you would think.
List your abilities up front
One of the most common mistakes applicants make after an employment gap is listing work experience in chronological order.
The resume should start with a summary, not career objective, stating your most important abilities and how they correlate to the job at hand. Communication, team leadership, marketing and sales, etc. are all important factors to list upfront, especially when facing a career transition.
Here is an example of a career summary:
Administrative support professional with 13 years' professional experience coordinating and managing offices for governments, military, and professionals. Excellent time management skills with extensive experience coordinating schedules and making travel arrangements for C-Level executives. Strengths include budgeting, managing accounts payable and receivable, maintaining supplies, and arranging repairs to equipment or facilities.
Next, include a checklist of areas of expertise and skills. These should be bulleted or enumerated one to two words stating a specific skill. For example, you can list project management, client education, marketing and sales, etc. A short, but similar, technology proficiency list should be included below the skills section. This lets the hiring manager know you are familiar with current technology.
Include volunteer experience
Volunteer experience can signify professional development, a commitment to community, and networking abilities. If your volunteer efforts are in line with the job you are applying for, list it as professional experience to minimize employment gaps. Otherwise list it separately under volunteer headers.
Format is the key to success
Do not list your employment history chronologically. Instead, divide each position and list according to abilities and knowledge. The key is not to draw attention to the gaps in work history. Draw more attention to what you can do and how you can do it. Other than organizing abilities first, the resume should be formatted the same as traditional resumes.
Don't forget: military is career experience
Many officers and enlisted personnel make the mistake of believing they haven't had a job or career experience in years. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Military experience is career experience.
List your training, posts, achievements, etc. Research your military jobs and compare them to civilian equivalents. Make the connection on the resume. Your experience should be listed in chronological order, along with other history. Just be careful not to post highly technical information or lengthy exploitations that no one can, or will, read.
Don't give up
Returning to the workforce after an employment gap isn't easy. Whatever the reason for returning to work, a career transition period will be required. Like any skill, it is difficult to jump in and continue where you left off. Take time to adjust, and don't give up. The first interview may not work, but there are more fish in the sea.
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