How do you improve your leverage when you have been out of work for one year?

Monday, October 13th, 2008 - CV Writing

Pat asks: How do you improve your leverage when you have been out of work for one year?

In answer:
As I have explained many times before, when an HR professional looks at a CV/Resume of a job applicant, the first thing they do after confirming you have the required competencies to undertake the job, is to read your career history by concentrating on the progression and dates – ie: the gaps in between the jobs. They are trying to understand your career management – why go from this job to this job? What is the logical track of your career management? What resultantly are your motivations? Did the career track change, and if so why?

Any issue which brings up a question mark in this track brings up an immediate question for you to answer by the HR professional. It may result in you being excluded from the recruitment process, or if not it will result in a question of why?

Your aim in a job application is to explain those gaps logically. OK, we all have a wobbly minute – some more occasionally than others – but we all have them. It’s just an issue of explaining why the change in jobs or the employment gap occurred.

The first thing NEVER to do in explaining a gap is to move the dates to remove the gap. There are very comprehensive checking services available these days to employers for not a lot of money, which can pick-up deviations of a day or so: so don’t even try.

You may also be uncomfortable with stating the truth about the why, particularly if it was a health issue for you or a friend/family member. However, a period out of a career path is not a bad thing, and a period looking after others may show another competence you have previously not had evidence to write in to your old CV/Resume. Health issues can also be handled, and won’t exclude you – some stated up front also mean that you can not be excluded from the recruitment process for that reason after that point.

However, the biggest gap problem to explain is “I just took a year out, and twiddled my thumbs.” That to an employer says “Nice for you, but what does that say about your motivation?” It’s the most common reason for being excluded these days as people take more and more career breaks, so make sure you did something. Did you rewire the house, build a cabin/boat, go travelling which was always a childhood ambition – just make sure you did something and that they can’t question your motivation.

The question about anything – gaps or periods of employment – in your career is always: what can I write on my CV/Resume as a result of this?

Good Luck!

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