If you have been unemployed for longer than 6 months then you need to do something to fill the gap in your employment history. Not only will this reduce the negative perception employers often have of candidates who are unemployed for long periods, but it will also:
- Boost your confidence and morale and make it less likely that you will feel useless and depressed
- Give you the opportunity to grow your network and make useful contacts who can help you
- Grow your skill set and experiences
- Make you look like a proactive employee with self initiative, confidence, problem solving skills and adaptability.
There are a number of options you can consider which will fill the employment gap in your work history. All of these options will be positively received by potential employers and a much better choice than simply saying – I took some time off.
Smart ways to fill the employment gap
1. Volunteer Work
Volunteering is great way to fill an employment gap. Seeing volunteer work on your resume shows potential employers you are willing to go over and above to help others and yourself. It’s a great way to show self initiative, often involves teamwork and demonstrates your confidence and motivation. There are also many ways to find this type of work.
- Look up all the local, well known charity groups in your area and contact them directly
- Ring your local council or government body and find out where you could help e.g local library, meals on wheels service etc…
- Ring local schools, hospitals or nursing homes and see if they have any help programs you could join.
2. Attend Industry and Local Events
Even though attending events may be the last thing you feel like doing when you are not employed, it can actually help you a lot. In fact, attending local events is one of the best ways to network. You can attend industry events and local government business initiatives as well as charity events and fundraisers. Introduce yourself to as many people as possible, clearly explain what you are looking for and ask them for their advice. See our post: 8 Surefire Networking Strategies for Job Seekers for all the tips and tricks you need to know to maximize your networking efforts.
3. Expand Your Education
If you are thinking about a career change then this may be the time to invest in your education or begin some retraining activities. You can look at part time or full time study for a new career or look into what short term courses you could undertake that add value to your current role. Look at your workplace development needs and see what courses are available that will help you address those needs.
4. Create an Online Brand for Yourself
There is no doubt that creating a credible, online presence will greatly assist your job search efforts. It makes it easier for Google and thus potential employers to find you but it can be time consuming which is why now is a good time to undertake the project. You can create your own online brand by creating a personal website or blog, developing an online resume, establishing a professional LinkedIn presence and then link all these important elements together. See our post: How to Create a Digital Portfolio Using FREE Software for all the details.
5. Set up all Google Tools to Maximize Your Job Search
No matter which option or options you chose to help fill the gaps in your employment you should still action this one. Make sure you have a gmail account and then set up Google Alerts, Google News and Google Maps to help you maximize your job search process. For step by step instructions on how to do this and how it can help you read our post: 4 Interesting Ways Google Can Help You Job Search
As you can see choosing one or more options from the list above will help fill the employment gap in your work history and remove the stigma some employers attribute to candidates that are unemployed.