Job seekers often feel that the slightest blip or blemish in their career trajectory is enough to eliminate them from consideration for top jobs.
Recently, I was on the hiring panel for an executive search, and – in an interview – one of the final candidates went out of his way to draw attention to a 3-month employment gap in 2008. The panel hadn't even seen it as a problem, but there the candidate was feeling as though he needed to justify it.
As I've gotten into before on the blog, the negative perception surrounding these "deficiencies" (and others) is overblown.
- You’ve taken time away to be a parent.
- You have gaps in your resume.
- You aren’t working while you search for a job.
- You are "too old."
Assertions that situations like the above are career ruiners make me crazy; they are shortsighted and outmoded. Sure, I wouldn’t say that these things make a job search easier, but making such sweeping generalizations is irresponsible because of its inaccuracy.
First off, in the last couple decades we have gone through a tech sector bust, a post 9-11 economic standstill, and a *deep* recession. Because of those events – and the way that the world of work is shifting in general – rarely do I see a resume without gaps. Beyond those facts, though, I have little patience for unwarranted negative spins that don’t point to solutions.
Here’s the deal. There are a lot of people who have set their careers aside to be a full time parent. Many people have a gap or two in their resumes, and many people looking for work are currently unemployed. The key – if you are in any one of those situations – is to stay positive and proactive. Here are three things to think about:
- Gaps are quickly overlooked if you have a resume that communicates accomplishments (not responsibilities). Employers want to hire people who get things done. THAT will make you stand out more than an employment gap will.
- Employed or not, a powerfully worded resume helps to make you highly marketable. If you can demonstrate, via your resume, that you are on top of your career (not the other way around), you are a more desirable candidate. Quality employers know that great candidates come from the ranks of both the employed and unemployed.
- Age can certainly work against you; it’s been proven in court time and time again. Having said that, successful job searches do not end when you turn 50. In this new economic climate, especially, employers are looking to maximize the efficacy of each new hire. Great experience – even a lot of it – can work to your advantage.