Getting Hired: How to deal with gaps in your work history - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Getting Hired: How to deal with gaps in your work history

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Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 7:27 am

Finally - I open the Sunday newspaper and see something positive regarding job seekers, rather than the usual negative news about unemployment and loss of jobs. I was so excited!

Of course, the article, courtesy of ARA Content, started out with attention to the negative stigma of having a gap in your employment history - a stigma potentially affecting 42.4 percent of all unemployed people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Now, the positive part: Jessica Renard, career services director at South University in West Palm Beach, Fla., offers three rules for the unemployed job seekers who have gaps in their work history.

• Be honest: If you were part of a reduction in force, say so without making any disparaging remarks about that employer, then move on to a positive remark like, "Since then I have been keeping my skills fresh by...." "The key," Renard says, "is to keep the conversation about your skills and how you can use them in the new position."

• Be positive: "Don't ever complain about a former employer during an interview," Renard advises. "Even if you think you were treated unfairly, the interview is not a place to discuss it." It is your role as a job candidate to present yourself well and with integrity. "Tell them you are looking for a new position that will be a better fit for your skills and for their needs," Renard suggests.

• Get ahead of the question: If you have gaps in your history, "a well-written cover letter gives you the opportunity to build some context before the hiring manager ever sorts through your work history," Renard says. The cover letter is a great way to clarify gaps in employment, as long as it follows the first two rules - be honest and be positive.

Finally, Renard suggests you minimize long periods of unemployment by working temporary assignments or by volunteering your skills to nonprofit organizations.

Both temp jobs and volunteering give you great opportunities to grow your skills, showcase your skills and network yourself to your next full-time opportunity.

My thanks to Jessica Renard for offering positive action for unemployed job seekers to take, and as always, I will leave you with my mantra. Do what others fail to do!

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