A candidate’s interruption of work is a risk area from the employer’s point of view. Several questions arise at once:
- How much has the candidate’s skill level dropped during this time?
- What is his motivation?
- What has changed in his life? Why is there an urgent need to get to work now?
- How conscious is this step?
It is essential to adequately describe this break in your resume, cover letter, and interview.
What challenges will arise in the job search after the break
The candidate’s resume will have a low threshold of openness, and the number of responses will be minimal. As a consequence, there will be virtually no invitations for interviews.
Based on the information he sees, the recruiter decides whether to go into the full version of the resume. The logic is this: if the period of active work ends, for example, in 2015, the recruiter needs to contact you to clarify what you have been doing for the past three years (were you sick? studying? or on maternity leave?). This takes extra time, and if there are many candidates with more recent experience and no “aggravating” circumstances, they will be given preference.
- How to remedy the situation:
- By adjusting your resume properly;
- by putting the right accents in it;
- Writing targeted cover letters;
- Demonstrating additional activity (training, demonstration of increased motivation, outreach to people who know you by your past merits before the break).
How to write a resume after a long break
The resume and cover letter are the first contacts with the employer. Therefore, it is necessary already at this stage to dispel his doubts. How to do it?
Explain the reason for the break and show that nothing prevents you from working now. It would be best to strengthen your position compared to the average candidate. It would be best if you were a head above to help – the results of previous activities, super motivation, additional training, and so on.
The website Layboard offers you to break down the common reasons for interruptions in work activities, what concerns they raise for employers and how to neutralize them.
What scares: lost qualifications, frequent sick leave to care for a child.
What to write: for example, the “About Me” block states, “From 2016 to 2018, I was on maternity leave. The child goes to kindergarten. The adaptation period was successful. Also, there are two grandmothers and a babysitter. And the control shot: “I missed my job. I want to be beneficial to my new employer.
What scares: not aimed at intensive activity, the motivation could be more straightforward.
What to write: “Been a homemaker for the last three years. At the moment – the only breadwinner in the family. I am considering a job as a marketer, three months ago I received a diploma. The topic of my bachelor’s work is business promotion in social networks. I worked on several projects. Customer feedback can be seen by clicking here.
Sickness or injury
What’s scary: how will it affect your work?
What to write: “July 2017 to March 2018, recovering from a broken leg. Now fully healthy, looking for a full-time office job.”
Caring for a relative
What’s scary: Repetition of the situation.
What to write: “For the past six months, caring for a seriously ill relative. There is no such need anymore. The priority is work”.
What’s scary: The candidate is a perpetual student.
What to write: “For the last two years, I have been studying at the Norwegian School of Economics, majoring in finance. I want to apply my previous experience and knowledge to work in your company’s finance department.”
What scares: the candidate is used to freedom, and such an employee will be challenging to manage.
What to write: link your skills to the employer’s requirements, and attach a portfolio with the best works on the requested subject. Finally, explain why we want to hire (honestly but carefully).
What’s scary: the same thing as a freelancer.
What to write: relate your skills to the employer’s requirements, prove your performance with facts, and show how we plan to solve the employer’s problems. Justify your motivation to go into hiring, and present an entrepreneurial type of thinking as your advantage.
And a couple more tips
Remember that employers are less interested in how long you’ve worked. More important is what you can do and how you can prove it.
Be very careful in terms of wording, and avoid a lot of exclamation points. Recruiters will be cold to the phrases “Don’t bother representatives of staffing agencies!” or “Don’t waste my time with offers with gray salaries!!!”. I’ve also seen options like: “Already tired of explaining that I did not work because I was on three maternity leaves!”
How to write a cover letter
Cover letters do not guarantee to invite you to an interview, but they significantly increase your chances. It’s imperative during a career break because the proper cover letter will contain information that helps the employer choose you.
Write briefly, just the gist (the recruiter has little time and many applicants). The text should contain facts that support your performance. The employer needs specifics and proof of what you say. Study the job requirements, write about your relevant experience, and how you can be helpful. Carefully add an explanation of the reason for the break.
Explain your motivation: why you decided to respond to the job posting. Add a call to action: “Ready to talk more in the interview about the benefits I can bring to the company,” or “I would love to talk about the tools I use in this area.
What to say at a job interview
A job interview is excellent. You’ve passed the first level of the “funnel,” and you’ve been invited to an interview. But don’t relax, because this is where you need to show your true motivation. Compare the two situations.
Supervisor: “As you can see from your resume, you’ve had a break in activity since late 2017. What have you been doing?”
Candidate 1: “I got tired, decided to take a break, then couldn’t find a job for a long time…”
Candidate 2: “While looking for a job, I finally found time to improve my English, took an exam, and did some consulting for former partners and clients. Examples are in my portfolio.”
Who do you think the employer would prefer?
Look at yourself through the eyes of a potential executive. What would embarrass you? What points would cause doubt? Then, read between the lines, hear by the tone and the focus of the questions asked, and help the interviewer find a rebuttal to your hypotheses. Thus, your main task in the interview is to convince the employer of your value. Answer uncomfortable questions calmly, confidently, and in a positive way. Give extended, not one-word, answers.
Don’t come to an interview empty-handed: if you’re a literary editor, bring your best books; if you’re an analyst, show a form of reporting you’ve developed that saves a lot of time. If you are witty and understand that it will be appropriate, make a joke. So, if you are looking for a way to fulfill yourself after a long career break, you must do the right thing.
To sum up, understanding what happened to your profession during your break will help answer whether you need additional training. If the answer is yes, then finding and doing a project as a consultant or volunteer can also be an option – it will help to remember old skills and build new ones. After the result will need to be noted on your resume. First, determine through experience or with the help of a professional what is preventing you from moving to the next step in your job search.
The second difficulty in finding a job after a while is psychological. Candidates feel insecure, and that insecurity only goes away with practice in the form of practice interviews. Seek out HR managers you know and ask for practice interviews with you, asking you uncomfortable questions. Do your homework beforehand: prepare answers about your motivation, and justify your interest in a particular company. A common mistake – in response to the question “why are you looking for a job?” to tell about the reason for leaving the last place. On the contrary, it is essential to focus on the direction you want to develop and how this goal relates to the job.
Give why you haven’t worked for a long time and answer honestly. As for talking about compensation, you shouldn’t intentionally understate your value. The hiring manager may perceive the salary expectations your voice as an embarrassment that needs to be explained: why are you cheaper for the same competencies and experience compared to other candidates? Study the surveys to check your salary expectations against those currently accepted in the industry.
Learn and evolve, and try different approaches. And don’t give up!