A few weeks ago, Fabiola (PMW Founder) shared a post on LinkedIn that has received high engagement from several professionals. She has opened up about her 3-year career gap and questioned whether we should worry about this when job hunting.
Interesting patterns and observations came out from the comments, and we thought we should dig deeper into the problem to be part of the solution.
Does a career gap really matter these days? How do you feel about explaining that in front of a recruiter? Do HRs overlook this in a resume? Do you fear coming clean about it?
- The first thing we noticed (not surprisingly) is that this problem affects more women than men. Whatever the reason (pregnancy, health issues, caring for a parent, finding purpose in life, planning a meaningful career), we always feel that we have to justify ourselves with others, we are more anxious about this topic; we feel the pressure much more compared to men. This comes from our feeling of not being good enough. Being the perfect partner, the perfect mother, the perfect daughter, the perfect leader, competing with the other sex for the same opportunities…There’s a lot to deal with daily. This is an issue that comes from within us and addressing it, it’s the first step. Where this emotion comes from and how can you act on it?
- This is a prejudice that you THINK all employers have. And yes, it’s true that some consider this is a red flag. But some others don’t. Plus, do you really want to work for someone who lacks empathy and doesn’t understand that that gap was necessary for you and your personal/professional development?
- HOW you react to this question is more important than the reason you have a gap in your resume. People are curious by nature and they just want to genuinely know what paused your career and how you managed. More often than not, they will judge your reaction, NOT your reasons.
#1 Keep it real: be authentic, be honest. The worst thing you can do about your career gap is to lie or try to hide it. If the question rises, be prepared, have a script ready. Take a deep breath and explain the situation. End your story with something positive. Talk about your strengths, how that gap made you even more resilient, and what have you learnt.
#2 Join a community: if you feel hopeless and still not sure how to go about it, join a group, a forum, a community that might help you. You’d find that there are many people like you out there who felt the fear and did it anyway, as Susan Jeffers would say. If you don’t know where to look, we have an awesome community ready to support you with this and other professional challenges as a migrant woman.
#3 Research the company and screen the job ad for keywords to find out their needs. Then write matching achievements on your resume. When answering, clarify that the reason for your time off from employment has now been resolved. Emphasise your skills and have a list of contacts ready to back your abilities and achievements.
- What if we can change the story we tell ourselves about ourselves? Lori Gottlieb reveals how in this inspirational TED Talk.
- Sana Sodawala became an accidental Instagram influencer in her gap year. Maybe you can be the next one?
We really hope this helped, but if you have questions on how to explain gaps in your resumes, leave a comment below.
Happy hunting PMWs!
The PMW Team 😉