Handling Gaps in your Work History

How prepared are you to respond to questions regarding a Gap in your work history? Being laid off or fired is infuriating, especially if you are dumped by an organization that you were thinking of leaving anyway.

Maybe the timing is terrible, but consider yourself rescued and liberated, PLUS you get to keep your “I am not a quitter badge”!

Is there is a plus side? Yes indeed!

You are being forced to reconsider your career options and proactively restructure the next phase of your career. If you got a decent severance package – HURRAH! You are being paid while you make this career upgrade.

Here are some recommendations for processing and handling the work gap in the initial phone call with a recruiter or hiring manager:

1)   Develop a concise non-emotional explanation for the gap. Was there a company-wide layoff, did your department fold, was there a personal health issue, or did you move to a new city?

2)   Do not fudge the truth. Do not change a full-time tenure at the company to a contract or temp role. Lying about your employment can be damaging. The wise among us realize that being dumped can be a good thing. So, evaluate what you have gained from working at the company that set you free.  

3)   One of the funnier moments in my coaching history is a candidate explaining that she was fired, but not really.

In response to my quizzical: Say What? She said that she was the only one laid off in her division, so she felt she was fired. Too much info…. Was the severance reasonable? I asked, she said yes. I suggested that we will call it a “dissociation.” It is incredible what language can do to improve one’s view of things!

4)   Explain what you were doing during gaps between jobs. Think hard. Did you volunteer, take classes to upgrade your skills, travel, or use the time to take care of a relative. Did you attend webinars take online courses etc.? In short, were you productive?

5)   Unless you are good at disassociation, try to subdue your maverick go-it-alone approach. Consider engaging a professional to help you sophisticate your resume and prepare for this and other tricky interview questions.

6)   Invest in yourself and your career, and above all, do not wait until you are at the interview itself to craft a response to what you have been doing the last three or six months. Above all, do not slime the people at your previous employer; they can be excellent sources for referrals.

Leveraging a referral to a Hiring Manager

Franklin Paterson Company Inc. Your One-Stop career boutique for resume writing, interview preparation and career strategy consulting.

Have you noticed that companies are beginning to list more jobs and the interviewing pace has picked up?

But, as mentioned in my last post, while there may be fewer job seekers on the market, the competition is stiffer, so a failure to follow the job application and interviewing rules is going to be far more obvious.

This is no time for the faint-hearted, budgets have been approved and the jobs that are available are part of a company’s long-term strategy, so there will be fierce competition.

You will also need to get by a natural adversary, the resume gatekeeper, whose sole purpose it appears is to decide whether your resume or your expected phone call will get through to the Recruiter or the Hiring Manager.

Here are a few tips that can help:
1. Do not address your cover letter, intro, or follow-up email with: “To whom it may concern”, the answer to that intro is – nobody. Use Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Recruiter, or the person’s name if available, or a simple: Hello, I am seeking a. XXX position (add the remainder of your cover letter here)

2. If you need to be a Confidential Job Seeker, please put somewhere prominent in your application an indication that you are actively seeking a new position. The word confidential can be off-putting, it may appear that you are not actively seeking a new position, so you must make the extra effort to alert the reader once they open your resume that you are actively job seeking immediately

3. When posting your resume on the job boards, follow the job application directions, before calling the person your colleague has referred you to.

4. If you have been directly referred to an HR person or to the manager, try to call from a place other than your desk at work or a noisy eatery. You cannot charm a busy recruiter, no matter how great your phone skills, if you cannot be heard properly.

Please call at the designated time and have your resume at hand. The company contact will do a better job interacting with you if you have forwarded your updated resume, and or created a job application in advance of the call.

If they should ask you to forward the document to them directly please enquire regarding the format they would prefer, please follow the instructions do not send a locked .pdf or a Dropbox file unless you are especially asked to do so.

Remember to ask your friend how the person’s name is pronounced, if asked to create an online application before the call or in-person meeting; please do so and do it properly and completely.

Follow up later with a phone call to give feedback regarding the call results. Hang in there… This could still be your year!!!!

Being laid off or fired can be a shock.

For some people, being laid off or fired leaves them feeling angry, ashamed, or resentful. For others, the response could be, “Well, that was interesting. Time to move on. NEXT!”

But remember how quickly you bounce back and begin to represent yourself and your expertise as valuable to another company is always going to be your choice. 

A fast recovery depends on how quickly you accept that while you have had done interesting work, it is time to move on to better things. So, give yourself space to work through your feelings. Don’t let this setback diminish your pride in your otherwise successful career.

Put your redundancy package in perspective. Does it allow you to survive in the near future, or are you stranded? When your career game is interrupted, middle inning, it helps to remember that the sun is shining elsewhere, it is not raining everywhere, and you should remember to let that sink in.

Here are some other survival tips:

1.  Although a quick bounce-back might be a struggle, you will need to project a positive image to persuade your friends and potential employers that you are still in one piece. Focus on the highlights and achievements in your career. That helps to minimize the emotional fallout.

2. A layoff might free you up to explore a new career path or reassess your strengths, values, or where your career interests truly lie. Layoffs affect everyone in the department. Those who remain with the company quite often feel like they have just won the booby prize.

3.  Focus on your achievements in your former role. Use short and factual explanations. Too much detail can sound defensive rather than accepting of the situation.

4.  Laid off due to a merger, restructure, or downsizing? Use a broad brushstroke: Use all-encompassing language. “Unfortunately, I was laid off along with other colleagues.”

6.  Management change or a shift in direction: My skills and expertise are no longer aligned with the projects or the new manager’s priorities.

7.  Fired for performance reasons? Briefly explain the circumstances and what the experience has taught you. Then move on to what makes you a good match for the current position.

8.  Try to stay steady? Avoid responding to a deluge of jobs in a desperate attempt to get any new job. Instead, update your resume and shift your focus towards what you can offer.

Finally, accelerate your networking. The more active you are in your professional communities, the easier it will be to ask for and get help.

Thanks

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High Maintenance Job Seeker

The high maintenance jobseeker views the job search process and interviewing as a highly competitive structured process that should run at a clip. Many try to force things and cross over into Jobseeker Uptighterati territory, in an attempt to get an edge over other job seekers.

Franklin Paterson Company Inc. your One-Stop Career Boutique for Resume Writing, Interview Preparation and career Strategy Consulting.

Recognizing the High Maintenance Uptighterati Jobseeker in yourself:

1.      In addition to applying to the job online, the high maintenance jobseeker sends their resume or project samples to Human Resources and the Hiring Manager by the next day post.

2.      Many job seekers use colorful paper or ink or graphics in their online resume in an attempt to stand out.  This may render a fair portion of the resume unreadable and look ever so slightly like a craft project gone wrong.

3.      Once contacted for an interview, they need to think about it, research, or look at their schedule. Then bombard the recruiter or manager with a series of “I would like to know emails” or calls before setting up or attending the interview.

4.      Resist your tendency to be a Uptighterati by showing up half an hour early for the interview to see if the manager is available and can meet with you a bit earlier. Adhering to your punctuality principle, then trying to make reality conform to it, can be very annoying to others.

5.      The high maintenance jobseeker brings a series of show-and-tell items, awards, projects, reference letters, etc., to the interview and constantly interrupts the interview to show the items.

6.      Is accompanied to the interview by a friend, who sits glumly in the lobby, or worse, wanders around, peering into the interview room or other offices.

In an attempt to stand out from other candidates, many jobseekers inadvertently commit one or more of these interview mistakes. Qualified for a position, had the first interview you are not asked back for a second interview? Check the items above. Did you commit any of these blunders?  Have you turned into a High Maintenance Uptighterati Jobseeker?

Job Searching during the Holidays

Why you should continue your job search during the Holiday Season.

Job searching during the holidays can add an additional stress level and an already stressful time of year. But there is an upside to interviewing during the holiday season.

Here’s why Job hunting during the holidays is such a brilliant idea!!

With over 20% of job seekers opting out of job searching due to the holidays, a fifth of your competition just left the market,  and an even larger percentage fail to update their resumes and profiles on the job search engines.  So now is the time to capitalize on that advantage.

How to beat the Holiday Job Search blues:

  • Create complete job applications. Resist the urge to send a blind resume. Employers seeking to hire are more likely to view resumes in an online format that they are accustomed to. The rest is for the delete button.
  • Please follow the job application instructions.  To ignore directions tells the manager that you do not/will not follow directions – and you wonder why they have not called on your resume!
  • If you created a job application more than three months ago, please go back in and update it; better yet, create a new resume or profile. You may have fallen to Resume 1005 – nobody reads that many.
  • Most job boards allow you to add up to three resumes/profiles. Every now and again, update to rise to the top.
  • Change or remove your objective or summary, so your info looks new.
  • Take a good attitude and lots of business cards to holiday functions. Hint: do not hand out your resume at holiday functions. Offer to email it the next day.
  • Still no hits or interviews after three weeks – thrash the whole thing. Create a new resume or profile.  Do it yourself or invest in your career, have a professional resume writer design it for you.
  • Some of the best salary offers are made during this upbeat time of year – so hang in there!!

Visit us often at  FranklinPaterson Company for resume writing, cover letters, and interview coaching that will enhance your job search, and get you noticed for the right reasons.

http://franklinpaterson.com

Thanks and Happy Holidays!!  

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