Upselling your career break skills

unqualifiedIt’s worth using this time to get ready for the jobs market to pick up. So if you want to return to part-time or flexible work after a career break, but are unsure about how to present the gaps on your CV and at interview, here are some tips. 

Like everything else, the jobs market has taken a hit during Covid-19 – and when it picks up again, you’ll want your CV and interview pitch to be ready. If you’ve ever had a career break (or are on one now) that means thinking about how you present the time you’ve spent out of work.

One thing’s for sure – you shouldn’t be afraid to up-sell the skills you have acquired during this time. You may be surprised by how much experience you’ve gained during your break, and how it can apply to the working world.

If you’ve spent your career break raising children, then look at any volunteer work you may have done with schools, playgroups or baby groups. Similarly, if you’ve been caring for a sick or elderly relative, you may be able to draw on the experience of dealing with different health or social care agencies.

Otherwise, remember that running a household and looking after family is also a full-time job. You just need to translate this into ‘work speak’.

EXPLAINING GAPS IN YOUR CV

When addressing your break in your CV, you don’t need to explain the reasons behind it. Instead, simply state that you have had a break and note what you have gained from the experience. Here are some examples:
 
Maternity or parental leave
Your experience:
Staying at home to look after family
Your CV should say: Career break. During this time, I acquired a range of skills from budgeting to project management.

Family/personal sickness
Your experience:
Staying at home to care for a sick parent
Your CV should say: Career break. This was a time when I learnt to handle complex situations and deal successfully with a range of people from different organisations.

Volunteer work
Your experience:
Running 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 DURING INTERVIEW

If you get through to an interview, it’s likely that you will be asked to talk through the gaps in your CV. This isn’t something you should worry about; good employers appreciate honesty, so you should feel comfortable about being open.

Don’t be afraid to explain, but don’t go into too much detail. And make sure you prepare and practice your responses to help boost your confidence.

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.”

Family sickness:
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.”

Personal health issues:
What to say:
“Due to a 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 health problem which has made it difficult for me to hold down a job.”

However you spent your career break, it won’t have been time wasted. Be confident about what you’ve gained, and it will stand you in good stead.

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