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How would a career gap affect applying to jobs?

"I recently had a career gap. Will it affect my chances of getting a job?"

So many people have asked this to me and all over the internet, that it's time to answer. Before I give you my sage advice and opinions though, let me tell you, I've holes in my career from the time I moved from India to the UK. 6 months long! I really thought I would be unemployable after that. But in reality, right after that gap I landed so many jobs that I had to physically go ahead and delete my resume from career portals to stop my phone from ringing all the time. So if you are asking if a career gap would stop potential employers from seeing you as a top candidate, don't worry! In fact, career gaps are more common than no career gaps.

Most senior candidates know that career gaps are in fact not an issue they would be worried about. Gone are the days when you had to be married to your career to show your diligence, or that you are a top performer who has never been fired.

Consider this - most modern employers understand that your career isn't probably the most important part of your life. In fact there's good reason why it shouldn't be. For most people, careers and jobs are a means to an end - living your fun life while being able to pay the bills.

And this - even if you are a top performer, you may not have control over you getting made redundant at some point in your life. You have control over performance related issues but not over organisational restructures. And definitely on cases like bankruptcies like they happened in 2008. So if you have a gap in your resume, it doesn't automatically reflect upon your performance.

Finally, also consider this - do you really want to be working for an employer for whom a career gap taken due to legitimate reasons, is an issue? And for me legitimate reasons include everything from "I went travelling" through to "I wanted to take time out to start my side gig" or "I was on parental leave". If an employer doesn't appreciate any of these, I don't really want to be working for them - it's just not a good fit.

Now that said, obviously understand that they employer will probe around to understand what you did during your gap, not because it's an issue but because they want to understand you as a person. So as long as you didn't engage in something criminal, you should really be okay. However, if you ask me, it is far better to have a powerful story around your gap. Did you do something interesting that you want to share with the interviewer or the employer? Something so interesting that it will automatically get you noticed ahead of other candidates?

For me, during my gap, I learned oil painting, started a food blog (which is pretty much dead now!) and made a couple of short films. When I put all of those in my resume in a line, guess what the hiring manager is thinking? "Creative data science girl, I want to talk to her!!"

While career gaps are common, being interesting isn't as common. So make sure you put your best foot forward when you are explaining carer gaps, whether that's on your resume or in an interview.

Were you worried about navigating your career gap?

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