Don’t be afraid to ‘up-sell’ your skills during your time out of work. Think of your career break as a time where you acquired new skills. Believe it or not, you’ll be surprised by just how much experience you’ve gained during your break, for whatever circumstances. If you’ve been out of work raising children, then look at any volunteer work you may have done with schools, playgroups or baby groups. Otherwise, don’t forget, running a household and looking after family is also a full time job. You just need to translate this into ‘work speak’.
Examples. How to up-sell career break skills on your CV:
Maternity or parental leave
Statement: “I stayed at home to look after family”
Your CV should say: Career break. In this time, I acquired a range of skills from budgeting to project management.
Statement: “I stayed at home to care for a sick parent”
Your CV should say: Career break. This was a time where I learnt to handle complex situations and deal with a range of people.
Statement: “I ran a weekly toddler playgroup”
Your CV should say: I ran a weekly event for local families. I was responsible for marketing the event to the local community, as well as project management and budgeting
Explaining gaps in your CV during interview
It is highly likely that you will be asked to talk through the gaps in your CV. Don’t panic. You just need to be open and honest. Employers like this. Don’t go into too much detail, but don’t be afraid to explain. Make sure you prepare and practice your response to help boost your confidence.
What to say: ‘I’ve spent the last year caring for a sick relative. Their health has now recovered and I’m ready to re-enter the workforce.’
Don’t say: ‘I’ve had personal issues which I’d rather not discuss’
Maternity or parental leave:
What to say: ‘I took a career break to concentrate on raising my family. They are now at an age where I am ready to get back to work.
Don’t say: “I started a family and now I need to get back to work as I don’t want to be at home full time.”
Personal health issues:
What to say: ‘Due to a recurring medical condition I felt unable to continue in my previous position. However, I’ve now returned to full health and feel ready to take on my next challenge.’
Don’t say: ‘I have a recurring health problem which has made it difficult for me to hold down a job’.