By Teri Hockett
There is a lot of information out there about how to disguise a gap in your work history, as though it is something negative to be hidden from the hiring manager. It is time to change our thinking and really shine a light on the value that a person Employed by Life brings to the work force.
Gaps in work history happen for all kinds of reasons, whether forced or planned. Instead of fudging the dates to close the gap in time, use it as an opportunity to list skills that you have accumulated during this transition time, then highlight your accomplishments and skills gained. We firmly believe that every experience can be applied to the corporate world.
A person that has spent any amount of time without paid employment typically did not just sit around waiting for the next job to knock on their door. Whether or not their time off was voluntarily, they gained many valuable skills. Combine those skills with a renewed zest for rejoining the workforce and they quite possibly will become the most treasured employee.
Examples of Employed by Life Experiences
Raising children is the ultimate job – you making an impact on the next generation. It takes a 24/7 commitment, and all the training is on-the-job. No two days are ever the same. Talk about being able to multitask under pressure!
Keeping the attention of a group of 3 year olds for any length of time is like herding ducks. This person must be engaging, the ultimate in multitasking, while giving a presentation and not losing those that are paying attention. They must be constantly on the lookout for those charges that are becoming disinterested or distractedly wandering off. We want that person’s intuitive abilities in my company. They can think on their feet, discern when a client’s interest flags or when that client is ripe for the close.
Caring for an aging or seriously ill family member requires another set of underrated skills. Researching the illness, the treatments, the care requirements, organizing medications, patient needs, and nutrition are just a few of the critical tasks. The compassion and commitment that it takes is something that you simply cannot teach a person, and is a beautiful thing when you encounter it. Typically this person is proactive, organized, and fiscally responsible, they tend to enjoy life, and above all they are tenacious (have you ever had to deal with insurance companies to get tests approved or medications covered?).
During your time off did you take on any special projects, manage a household, oversee a home remodel, or even plant a garden? All of these activities say something about you and help contribute to why you are ready to re-enter the workforce now.
3 Steps to Translate Employed by Life Experiences into Job Market Skills
Step 1. Be honest… don’t hide the reality.
There is a tendency to be vague or leave out the details of what really took place while you were away from the job market. Give this period of time-off a name, such as: family management, sabbatical, or leave of absence. The state of the economy during the last four years has resulted in historically high unemployment rates. Subsequently, employers are more understanding about gaps in employment, but they will never appreciate dishonesty or excuses. Employers are far more interested in what you did during the gap, not why the gap exists.
Step 2. Make a comprehensive list of all your accomplishments.
Take the time to carefully consider everything you did during your time away from paid employment. Discuss your ideas with a spouse or friend; they may identify skills or achievements that you may have otherwise overlooked. Chances are you will discover that you have been one very busy person!
Make a list of all that you have done, for example:
- Cared for an ill family member or aging parent
- Managed a home remodeling project
- Raised your children and ran a household
- Volunteered: scout leader, PTA position, charities
Step 3. List your skills, expertise, and abilities
Now create an all-inclusive list of all the skills, expertise, and abilities needed or acquired during each event list above, such as:
- Organized information
- Managed others
- Oversaw a budget
- Contracted with other companies
- Negotiated with insurance providers
In summary, you have just identified valuable skills that can now be translated to the job market. By listing each activity, how it was performed and the value that it represents as job worthy skills.
I challenge you to be bold enough to list Employed by Life under “Work Experience” on your resume. It is time we embrace our valuable roles in life and acknowledge that they shape who we are today: capable, multidimensional, experienced individuals!
About the Author
About What’s For Work?
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