If you’ve ever traveled through London, you’ll be aware of the signs painted at the side of the platforms on the London Underground cautioning you to “mind the gap”! Being British, this phrase also comes to mind whenever I meet a woman who, for financial or other reasons, is forced to go back to work after getting divorced. Many of my female friends and clients have large gaps in their work history and struggle with explaining these on paper or in an interviewing or networking situation. If this sounds familiar, read on!!
Filling the Holes
So how can these gaps be explained? How do you present yourself as a confident candidate to a prospective employer with a hole the size of the Grand Canyon in your resume? The answer is to fill the gap with SOMETHING which demonstrates to the hiring manager that you used your time effectively, preferably in gaining skills that can potentially be applied in the workplace.
Case study from my files
Anna is a stay at home mom with 3 kids and hasn’t worked for almost 10 years who found herself in the unexpected position of looking for a job. She asked me to help her draw up her resume and after interviewing her, it became clear that far from sitting around at home while the kids were at school, she had been very active in the community. This brings up another important point – just because you didn’t get paid for what you did, doesn’t mean you can’t include it in your resume!
Exactly what had Anna done? One of the activities she had started was to single handedly organize a campaign to save her local library from closing. This involved lobbying City Hall, rallying supporters, communicating and building support, collecting data on library usage and presenting a robust case to councilors. I’d say those were all skills that could be used in the workplace as they demonstrate tenacity, project management, communication skills and someone who is obviously very driven!
Your Compelling Story
By working these skills into her resume, Anna was able to present a more compelling case to a potential hiring manager. Not only that but Anna’s confidence was boosted as she realized she had a lot more to offer than she thought!! Get the picture?? It’s less about “minding the gap” and more about how you manage and present it to create a compelling case for hiring you.