Taking a break from having a full-time job to pursue an alternate path or because of personal reasons is normal, but it might have a negative connotation on paper. That might hurt your chances of getting back to the workforce when you’re finally ready, or it can deter future employers from hiring you altogether.
However, having a gap on your resume won’t be the end of the world. There could be plenty of reasons as to why you decided to take a break, and you are under no obligation to explain to others why you did so. Besides, there are simple ways to get around that minor inconvenience.
If you’re worried about getting back into the game because you’ve been out of it for a while, then the best way for you to cope is to prepare. Here are five tips to help you present your best self and leave your future employers no choice but to hire you for your job well done:
Tip #1: Widen Your Skill Set
Employers always want candidates with a proactive mindset because these people are quick to adapt to their circumstances. To show your future employer that you have what it takes to become a proactive employee, you have to widen your skill sets and abilities beforehand.
For instance, you can look into the current trends in your respective industry and familiarize yourself with how they work. Another way to improve your skills and abilities is through lifelong learning. You can find educational institutions such as SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) that offer short training to those who want them.
By partaking in part-time SSG courses, you will be given the chance to receive industry-relevant training and be exposed to critical skill areas that can help take your abilities to the next level. With your newly acquired skills, you will become an indispensable member of your future company.
Tip #2: Make a Targeted Resume
It’s important to update your resume before you send it out to your future employers because that’s how they can initially gauge your competency for the role. However, a simple update on your outdated resume can be underwhelming. If you truly want to impress, you need to highlight your skills, qualifications, and abilities that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Typically, most people would make a standard resume containing the usual information, which they can disseminate to recruiters with ease. But doing so might backfire because your resume will be among the hundreds of applications that don’t stand out at first glance, and the first impression is imperative.
That’s because recruiters spend six seconds at most to look at a resume before moving on to the next one. If you can’t make an impact in under five seconds, you lose the chance to even become a candidate. So if you want to stand out, consider making a targeted resume that is appropriate and relevant to the position you’re eyeing.
Tip #3: Practice Through Mock Interviews
The age-old saying that “practice makes perfect” still rings true today. If you practice doing something enough times, then the chances of you perfecting that specific activity will be higher as opposed to not practicing at all. This is especially true if you get anxious or nervous during interviews.
After making a great first impression with your resume, the next step is to have an impactful interview. Therefore, you have to ensure that you can respond to your interviewer’s questions appropriately and concisely. The best way to do this is by practicing through mock interviews, which you can do with the help of a friend or family member.
Tip #4: Create a Brief Explanation for the Break
As mentioned earlier, you are under no obligation to explain why you took a sabbatical. However, a gap in the resume might raise questions that can be difficult to avoid during an interview. If it ever comes up, it’s best to be prepared to answer the question than to be taken aback.
That being said, you won’t need to go into a monologue explaining why you took a break each time you are asked. The best way to approach this is to create a simple and concise explanation about why there’s a gap in your resume, without divulging personal or sensitive information that you don’t want to share.
Tip #5: Build Your Self-confidence
Finally, the last tip that you need to wow your future employer is to have self-confidence. You have to believe that you can perform the duties and responsibilities of the position that you’re applying for. And of course, you will have to follow through once you get the job.
But there’s a fine line between being self-confident and being arrogant. You can be confident that you can do a job well done without bragging about what you can do or comparing yourself to others. Instead of making big promises that seem over the top, show them what you can do through your actions.
Taking the first step is always frightening, even if you have taken that step before. Going on a break means that you have to start all over again, but that doesn’t mean you’re starting from scratch. With your experiences and existing skills, all you have to do is improve where you can to become the best employee that you can be.