You're currently unemployed. You do however have lots of previous experience within Pharmacy. Should an employer discredit you as a possible candidate for their role?
There are many reasons for taking a career break- caring responsibilities, ill health- these reasons are very easily justified with little to no explanation required. However, there are other reasons which may be deemed as an unreasonable reason to be out of work- and therefor requires a larger and more detailed explanation.
Returning to work after a break in your employment can be extremely daunting, especially when you feel completely out of practice. You’ve done the leg work by updating/creating your CV to appear more relevant to prospective employers, you’ve created a brilliant cover letter to go alongside it…but you keep getting blanked and rejected prior to being met by ‘x’ employer.
There are reasons why an employer would not consider recruiting anyone with a gap on their CV- main point being that recent studies show that it costs a business on average £3,000 to employ someone new to their organisation. Therefor every new employee in the business is an investment. They may see an employment gap on your CV as somebody who could be unreliable.
Here's some tips on how you can navigate through employment gap questions:
All you need to do is reflect on your time away from work and piece together some positive narratives of your gap.
There’s always a way to positively spin a gap on your CV. The language and information you use to show your perspective employer is very important and can be the difference between you securing a job or not. Instead of addressing the "being away from work" negatively. You could talk about all the great things you've got up to whilst being away from employment. Talk about how you've made all these activities positive for future working you.
Plan your days just as if you were working. Research courses that you can attend that can further develop your skillset and prepare you for working life again.
Set your alarm throughout the working week just like you were going to work. That gap in your CV could be eradicated if you can fill the time with useful activities. There are free courses online which offer great professional development programmes, well worth attending if you have the time to do so. Just fill your time well.
There’s no need to panic
We know how anxiety filling having to explain yourself to a stranger is.
If your career break was 5-10 years ago, you really have nothing to worry about. If your break was within the last few years, just prepare yourself for these questions to be asked. Just be confident and approach the topic head on. It’s likely to be discussed over a 30 second period and then dropped.
Career breaks happen! The best in the business choose to have breaks within their career strategically. There’s really nothing to worry about so long as you can justify why you took this time out of work.
Prove you won’t do it again
We know this point may seem harsh.
However, if we take it back to the beginning of the blog where I mention how much it costs for a employer to hire someone new, they would like to know they have your full commitment and don’t want to have another career break.
It’s your responsibility to let them know that you took the career break for whatever reason and you are now ready to put your time and effort into the prospective company.
Match your employment gap to job opening date
This may seem like an unlikely approach, however when an employer is reading through your CV and see that your break is coming to an end exactly at the time where they need someone to start, it will leave a positive taste in their mouth.
It’s too easy to write- “Currently Unemployed” on your CV on the top of your employment dates. Instead of this include dates and be very specific. This helps the employer see past the break and look at what you are looking for. This may mean switching up your CV for every prospective employer (you should do this anyway) which of course.
There’s many reasons why you may have an employment gap in your CV. Below we’ve outlined some ideas on how you could tackle a question surrounding gaps during an interview.
Do: “I had to take time away from work due to an ongoing ill health to ensure that I was able to recover fully prior to returning to work. I am now however back to full health and ready to take on my next challenge.”
Don’t: “I had ongoing ill health so I just couldn’t continue with working”
Do: “I had to take time away from working to care for a family member. They are however back to full health and I am ready to focus on me and my career again”
Don’t: “I’ve had some personal stuff going on and I’d rather not disclose”
Do: “Unfortunately, my previous employer was forced to make some financial cuts. I fell into these cuts and had to leave. I did however gain great experience within the time I worked there. They are available to take a reference to validify this reasoning. Since then, I’ve been seeking the right opportunity with the right company.”
Don’t: “My previous employer made me redundant, so I’ve been out of work.”
Do: “I made the plucky decision to leave my previous workplace due to feeling the need to enhance my professional development skills away from the workplace. During this time, I have attended multiple courses relevant to my skillset. I feel through doing this I will be an enhanced asset to you. I am now feeling ready to practice what I’ve learnt through this time.”
Don’t: “I just wanted some time away from work for me”
The most important thing to remember when approaching gaps in your employment is to be honest! You aren’t the first and you certainly won’t be the last person to have an employment gap.
Quad Recruitment have another blog which helps with knowing how to write a killer CV. Click here to view this blog.