Will a lapse in your work history keep you out of work?

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** Article written by Cory Minter, CEO of Trinity Employment Specialists | A Tulsa Staffing company

Will a lapse in your work history keep you out of work?
Cory Minter – CEO, Trinity Employment Specialists

There have been a growing number of people that have been out of work for long periods of time that have had a great difficulty getting back into the workforce.   According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics our national unemployment rate teetering around 8%, and it is certainly no question that our American economy is not advantageous for the unemployed worker right now.  As a recruiter, I see employees that are out of work either because of the economy or because of a personal situation such taking care of an ill parent or family member.  In both of those scenarios, the candidate is not to blame.  They find themselves in a situation they are unable to change, but at the same time have to deal with head on.  Below are suggestions for those individuals struggling to get back to work in a very competitive job market.

  1. Get in front of a recruiter or employment agency.   Now I know you may be thinking.  Of course a recruiter would say that … A recruiter is obviously biased.  Please allow me to explain why I would recommend this course of action.  I believe there is tremendous value in candidates who have decided to put their careers on hold for something that is admiral as well as those that are great employees and are victim to the down-turn in the economy.  Some of my personal best recruits have been candidates who have taken time off to care for their children, or had a gap in employment due to a move. It is often hard for someone to communicate this lapse in employment effectively with a company when interviewing.  A good recruiter or employment agency can speak about knowledgeably about candidates and their work history breaks because of the relationship developed with the employer. Often the recruiter has built a high level of trust with the company due to the past history and has developed a sense of what type of employee will fit best with the company’s culture.
  2. List why you have been out of work in your cover letter or briefly on your resume.  With companies conducting mass layoffs such as Boeing, Hostess and Groupon many job seekers have to compete with many more people for positions. This can lead to employees being forced to wait longer and longer for quality positions. If you have been out of work for quite some time, it is important to keep your resume up-to-date. It is also wise to look at your resume through the eyes of a prospective employer.  Hiring managers will want to know why you have a gap in your work history. You can mention this in your cover letter, or briefly on your resume.  However, there are situations that will need to be explained during an interview.
  3. During the downtime keep up with your skills, and list them on your resume.  One big mistake that we see are individuals that take time off of work for personal reasons and do not keep up with their skills in the meantime.  Examples would be CPA’s not renewing their license or an RN not keeping up with the continuing education credits.  If you fall into a category where your license is critical to your career, always make sure to keep up with the continuing education and keep your license active.  This not only helps you keep up with your field, but you can also list these efforts on your resume helping to close the gap in your employment.  This will be very helpful to you and will help you look much more polished on your resume.

Other ideas to help keep your skills current if your field does not require licensure would be to take evening classes geared toward an aspect of your future career. Also, keeping up with cutting edge articles geared toward your skills will be helpful in staying up-to-date on the latest in your profession.

Staying connected via social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to other professionals is another great way to not lose touch with your network. This can help generate leads from past coworkers or those looking for someone with your skill set. Seventy percent of companies use social media, according to an October 2012 ‘HR Magazine’ article published by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).  Large and small companies alike use social media to generate business as well as find candidates for open positions.

All too often there are great candidates who are not considered because of the big gaps in their resumes. This does not mean these candidates are not current on their skills or knowledge, but it can often appear that way if the resume is not properly crafted. Hopefully, this article has helped with some ideas to improve the image of your resume and produce more activity in hiring managers wanting to speak with you.  In the end, all you are looking for is ONE yes.  Always focus on only the ONE yes you need!

Good luck!!