career change

How To Fill A Gap In Your Resume

iStockphoto.com |  JJPan

iStockphoto.com | JJPan

 

Whether it's due to corporate layoffs, family leave, or whatever reason, you may find yourself between jobs. It’s not unusual. But this does provide job seekers with a noticeable gap in employment.

In employers’ terms, that time is unaccounted for. If you send your resume to an employer without providing any context, the recruiter or hiring manager is left to his or her own imagination to deduce how you’re spending your working hours. For all they know, you're sitting on the couch eating bonbons and watching Gilligan's Island reruns.

The point here is not to advise you how to hide such gaps on your resume. Rather, how do you really use that time effectively so that you don't have a hole?

  • Devote a portion of every day to the job hunt. Block out time on your calendar when you will check job listings, apply to jobs, send out resumes, reach out to your LinkedIn network, attend professional events, and so forth. Routine will reinforce in your mind that searching for a job is a job in itself. Consider dressing in business attire to help establish the proper mindset.
     
  • Keep busy with temporary or part-time work. I used to work in recruitment, and I once left a  position without another job in hand (the position and I were a poor fit for each other). Through my network, I came across a part-time opportunity with a staffing firm. We were able to negotiate a flexible work schedule which allowed me to interview for full-time jobs on an as-needed basis. At the same time, I kept my skills sharp. And after the ego hit of being unemployed, I was able to rebuild my confidence and demonstrate to potential employers that my skills and I were valued and still in demand.
     
  • Volunteer. Do you have a favorite cause? Skills you can share? Consider volunteering with a charitable cause close to your heart. In the nonprofit world dollars are tight, and giving freely of your time a few hours a week can ease a substantial burden. In addition to generating some positive karma in your account, you can pick and choose type of work you wish to do and how contribute your talents. Are you an accountant and your church needs help installing QuickBooks? Perhaps the local food pantry need help boxing meals. Or maybe can you provide assistance in another area of  expertise?

Maybe the hole in your resume is in your past; try to think back of how you spent that time. If you used it working in an unrelated field or volunteering, account for that time on your resume as well.

Oh - in case you were wondering, full-time parenting counts as work. Take your credit where it's due.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

6 Important Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Nightmare Job

That's the third laptop this week... | iStockphoto.com ( RomoloTavani)

That's the third laptop this week... | iStockphoto.com (RomoloTavani)

 

We spend more than a third of our lives at work. What do you do if that portion of your life feels like a living hell?

Here are some nightmare scenarios you may be encountering:

Toxic Work Environment. The company sold you a bill of goods on the interview. Morale is bad, your coworkers are worse, and expectations are shifting and unrealistic. A 40-hour workweek is a pipe dream compared to the 70+ hours you’re currently logging.

Your skills no longer meet the company’s needs. Sometimes a major internal shift occurs that makes you vulnerable. For example, maybe you’re an IT manager who’s been working on 20-year-old technology that’s being sunsetted at the end of the year, and there’s no plans or budget to train you up on the new platform. This kind of thing can also happen with soft skills, too – maybe the CEO is rolling out a new service model and it’s clear you’re having difficulty adapting.

Your boss has it in for you. Perhaps you and your manager have different philosophies. Maybe he wants to replace you with somebody he worked with at his last company. Or, maybe, he’s just evil. Either way, you have a bulls-eye on your back, and when things go south you will be blamed.

You’ve burned out. Sometimes it feels like you have nothing left to offer – no passion, no interest, no energy, and no motivation.

Or, maybe, your situation is a combination of all the above. In any event, you have a knot in your stomach just thinking about work, and you’re popping Rolaids like candy in order to battle back chronic acid reflux.

A thought crosses your mind: “This job is horrible, I should just quit. I can find another job.”

Acting on this is another matter. We depend on our job in order to eat and to put a roof over our head. Here are six important questions to ask yourself before deciding to quit your nightmare job.

  1. Is the situation temporary? Let’s say your manager is the primary source of your aggravation ­– is he filling in as the boss while the company has a vacancy, or is he settled into the role for the long term? If he’s an equity partner, then he’s clearly not going to move on anytime soon.
     
  2. Can you fix the situation? It’s not always possible for the boss to know everything that’s going on in the organization. If a process is broken, sometimes your manager has the power to remedy it, and by telling her she can address it. If the issue is skills related, perhaps you can take a class on your own time. And if you’re having a major personality clash with a coworker that’s causing your pain, sometimes a direct conversation can resolve it. But, sometimes not.
     
  3. Can you afford a break in employment? True, you’ll have time available to interview for jobs, but finding a new job takes time, and you won’t be collecting a paycheck while you’re on the hunt. Incidentally, if you quit you won’t qualify for unemployment pay.
     
  4. Will my employer pay me to leave? Many senior executives negotiate a severance package prior to accepting a job – if you’re lucky enough to fall into this category, you’ll have an idea of what your financial safety net will look like. But even if you’re not a member of the executive suite, there may still be the potential of a severance package. Some companies are image conscious, and may be willing to discuss some sort of severance in order to maintain their image and provide you with a soft landing – but don’t count on this, as it’s usually the exception, rather than the rule. Severance packages tend to be offered when it’s the company’s decision to part ways, not yours.
     
  5. Will my reputation take a hit? As a general rule, candidates who are currently employed tend to be more desirable, whereas candidates who are unemployed tend to generate questions and doubts by potential employers. Trust me, they’ll dig at this during the interview to see if they can uncover your flaws that contributed to your unemployment – fairly or unfairly. Also, you will damage your position during salary negotiations; instead of negotiating a package from a position of strength where the company needs to put together an attractive compensation package to entice you to leave your current opportunity, you’re in the less desirable position of negotiating with minimal leverage.
     
  6. Are my skills in demand? Take a serious look at your job market. If your skills are in high demand, employers may be more ready and willing to take a chance on you. If the market for your line of work is flooded with unemployed professionals, prepare for a slow, painful ride.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

8 Simple Time Saving Strategies Every Job Hunter Should Know

Time often CAN be more valuable than money... (iStockphoto.com/ kmlmtz66)

Time often CAN be more valuable than money... (iStockphoto.com/kmlmtz66)

Looking for a new job, but pressed for time? Here are eight great time saving strategies that every job seeker can use to streamline the job search and build some forward momentum.

  1. Tell people you're looking for a job. It may not occur to people in your network to tell you about a new job opening at their office if they believe you're happily employed. Informing your friends and family that you're ready for a career change may turn them into your job scouts.
     
  2. Ask for referrals. Many companies reward their employees for introducing talent to the organization, in the form of a substantial referral bonus. If you have a friend who works at a company you've been eyeing, don't be afraid to ask them to submit your resume. Of course, use tact and don't be pushy about it – they'd be doing you a favor, and would be staking their reputation on you.
     
  3. Call a headhunter who has placed you with an employer in the past. Again, you may not be on their radar. But if they were successful in placing you before, they may be willing and able to consider you for a new job.
     
  4. Set up job alerts. All the major job boards, including LinkedIn and Indeed, and several others, allow you to set up notifications so that they email you as positions matching your search criteria are posted. There are a lot of job boards; by setting up alerts, you only have to visit each board when there's a reason to do so.
     
  5. Become an "Open Candidate" on LinkedIn. Recruiters are constantly combing LinkedIn for candidates for their open job. LinkedIn in late 2016 added a feature, called Open Candidate, where you can signal recruiters in target companies that you're actively looking for a job, without notifying your current employer.
     
  6. Get a LinkedIn Premium subscription. LinkedIn advertises that as a benefit of being a paid subscriber, you will be a "Featured Applicant," where "Your job application will appear above job applications from non-Premium members, increasing your chances of having it viewed." I'm not sure exactly how high you'll appear on any given search, but if this benefit pushes you toward page 1 or 2 of search results, there's a much better chance a recruiter will take a look at your profile.
     
  7. Add keywords to your LinkedIn profile. There's a "Skills & Endorsements" section on your LinkedIn profile, but what recruiters really search is the profile text. A brief section in your "Summary" section that includes a list of your skills, separated by bullets or commas, will make your profile a better match for recruiter searches.
     
  8. Attend a job fair. Yes, you'll probably spend most of the day there, but think of the time you'll save. When you apply to jobs online, there's a 5% to 10% chance (a rough estimate) that a recruiter or a hiring manager looks at your resume. However, when you hand your resume to a company representative at a job fair, there's a 100% chance it will get reviewed – in fact, they're usually going to spend a couple minutes interviewing you as well. Multiply this by the 100 or so employers you get to meet that day, and you're looking at time very efficiently spent.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.