How to Handle a Career Gap
Career Advice, Job Seekers
If there is one thing that the tumultuous past few years has taught us, it’s that having a career gap doesn’t have to be a terrible thing to have on your resume. With the ups and downs of so many industries, the IT space is no exception. If you are between jobs or contracts, what’s important is how to frame your career gap for potential employers. There are still many beneficial ways to spend your time while on the hunt for your next job, some of which can even help you in your search. Here are several ways you can handle a career gap:
Focus on Improvement
If you’ve found yourself back in the job market, one way to make the most of your time is to focus on improving your skills to enhance your marketability. Depending on your situation, it may make sense to take a class or bootcamp to expand your knowledge about certain areas of your field or leadership, management, and other related subjects. You could also devote time to earning new certifications to help you enhance your career.
If you’re on a tighter budget, there are many avenues for free learning online or through local resources such as libraries and universities. Some organizations will let you audit courses for free and then add a certificate later on, allowing you to gain the knowledge and then get credits or certifications when you’re ready. No matter what path you choose, utilizing some of your time to focus on upskilling or reskilling can help you land your next job or contract, and gives you a great explanation for what you were doing during that time if potential employers ask.
Make an Impact
Another way to make the most of a career gap is to put your skills and time to use in your community. Volunteering or mentoring opportunities can be a great way to get out there and do some good, and it can be a valuable way to make connections with other people. Not only can you find ways to put your current skills to use, but you may find yourself learning new ones as well. This can give you great anecdotes for interview questions seeking to know more about how you work under pressure, with difficult people, etc. Check in with local organizations related to the type of volunteer work or mentorships you are interested in to get started. Once again, this type of work can be a great addition to your resume as it shows that you’ve kept active in your field and community.
Spend Time Networking
No matter what other activities you take up while between jobs, it’s important to utilize opportunities to network. If you’re taking a class, network with other students – you never know what kind of connections they may have. If you’re looking for volunteering opportunities or to take up a mentorship, connecting with local organizations or your alma mater can lead to more chances to get your name out there and find work. In addition to these, looking for networking opportunities such as conferences, local IT organization meetings, and online groups can all help you find your next job. Taking time to connect with experienced IT recruiters and other IT professionals on sites like LinkedIn can also lead to unexpected opportunities, so it’s important to keep your profile updated and active.
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