Last year, the average time between jobs peaked at around 30 weeks. 30 weeks… that’s right around seven months. Seven months of your time spent out of a job. Seven months that can easily sift through your fingers if you don’t watch out.
While seven months seems like a great opportunity to relax, work on your Tetris high score, maybe take in a round of golf (or forty), it creates a substantial gap on your resume. However long your time between jobs is — six weeks, seven months, or a year — sounds great to you, but to an employer, it’s a mystery that might present a big red flag.
When an employer looks at gaps in employment, they have to wonder: What did this person do during their unemployment? Why haven’t they been hired yet? Do they still have the skills necessary for the job?
Instead of leaving an employer to fill in the blanks, make a point to fill employment gaps. Check out these eight suggestions on how to handle those gaps between jobs:
If you’re fine financially, why not spend your unemployed days helping others? Not only does volunteering allow you to get out of the house and meet new people, it also allows you to think about your career in the bigger picture. Try new things and you never know where your career might turn. Look for volunteering gigs in your industry — networking opportunities can be found everywhere.
2. Start a small side business
You might not have that entrepreneurial urge for the rest of your career, but starting a small business in the time you’re spending between jobs can help you hone your skills as a leader and worker. Freelance public relations, accounting, and copyediting are very common, amongst other ventures.
We all know the saying, “Those who can’t do; teach!” In this case, take this to heart. Whether it’s participating in literacy programs at the library, teaching business basics in a small-business seminar, or visiting a college class as a guest speaker, there are plenty of ways you can share your knowledge and put yourself out there.
Chances are, there is at least one publication that deals with your chosen field. Start a blog, submit articles to online publications, or look for freelance opportunities (Writer’s Market is a great place to start.) Not only does this keep your juices flowing, but it’s also a great way to build an online brand. Now, instead of a gap on your resume, you have a publication.
5. Keep talking
Writing isn’t for everyone, but talking is. Thanks to modern miracles like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, it’s easy to stay up-to-date and in the conversation for your industry. Not only will you be maintaining your professional flair (in your pajamas), but potential employers are known to hire folks from social media.
6. Network, network, network!
Social media is a huge part of networking today, but nothing will ever beat face-to-face, “here’s my card” networking. Find local networking events where you can mix and mingle with other professionals and potential employers. Can’t find any good organizations or networking events in your hometown? Why not start your own? You can latch onto another organization’s networking schedule or start from scratch. It’s the ultimate way to “build your network”.
7. Part time gigs
The job you’re hunting for is probably long-term and full-time, but what’s the harm in picking up one or two part-time or temporary jobs during your employment gap? Working seasonally or part-time can help you explore other industries without committing your career to it. We all know the economy is tough, so your dream company could hire you temporarily until a position opens up.
8. Be honest
When writing a resume or sitting in an interview, honesty is always, always, always the best policy. While you should do your best to keep productivity up, sometimes we need downtime. Never bluff, fib, or fudge the facts when it comes to your work history. You might get further in the hiring process, but you’ll get kicked in the end.
Have you ever had an extended employment gap? How did you spend your time?
Post brought to you by Rezscore.