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The Career Coach

How to Explain an Employment Gap

Published on November 13, 2009

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We polled Omaha.netizens far and wide with a simple question: If you could ask a professional career counselor anything free of charge, what would you ask?

Vickie Seitner, CEO of Career Edge One, was gracious enough to answer three of the best questions here. The topics include everything from explaining gaps in your resume to rejoining the workforce after the birth of a child. Choose the question that best matches your needs, and apply the advice liberally!

Need something specific? Leave Vickie a comment, and maybe your question will appear in the next mail bag!

And now the questions:

1.   How do I know if I am looking into the wrong career? How can you help me figure that out? Thanks, Stacy (West Omaha)

Hi Stacy-This is a great question to ask! You have come to the right place in that I can help you figure that out and the absolute best part of this process is that you already know the career that is right for you-it is just a little buried.

My role as a career coach is to un-bury your hopes, dreams and interests concerning what you would like to be doing for a living and help you create a game plan in making those dreams come true. The process would look something like this:

  1. Identifying your values and life’s intentions (what is really important to you)
  2. Discovering your strengths and talents
  3. Identifying where you strengths and talents can best be used
  4. Creating a game plan
  5. How to overcome obstacles and your inner gremlins while achieving the steps in your plan.
  6. How to celebrate your successes!

We spend the majority of our waking hours at work-there is no reason that we should not be doing what we thoroughly enjoy and are good at during those hours. I am available at anytime if you are interested in taking the first step. My first session is free and I welcome the opportunity to support you.

2.   Hey! What’s the best way to explain periods of unemployment on a resume? I travel a lot, and I feel like it makes my resume looks worse than it really is. Thanks, Ryan (Council Bluffs)

Hi Ryan. Good for you that you have had the opportunity to travel and see what wonderful things exist outside of your hometown. I think the best way to address your wandering feet is to talk about it in your cover letter. You can let them know that you have had the great fortune to travel and see great things and you can tie your travels into lessons that you have learned that would be a benefit for any workplace, such as how to handle unplanned emergencies, overcoming rudeness of others with your own gracious and kind responses, etc. I think you get the picture.

All kidding aside, you will also need to state that although you have had wonderful experiences, you are ready to settle down and welcome the opportunity to bring your knowledge and talents to their organization. Career Edge One Coaching uses a great resume writer who could help you in drafting your cover letter. Please feel free to give me a call at 402-660-6053 if you are interested. Take care and happy writing!

3.   Hi Vickie. I have worked for a few companies in Omaha doing various kinds of office work, but after the birth of my son, I left the workforce. Now I’m ready to return. I’m just wondering. What kind of message does it send if you put that your former employer should not be contacted? It’s not that we are on bad terms, but my former bosses have moved on, and most of these business are not the types of places that keep firm records of employment. Tara (West Omaha)

Dear Tara. Congratulations on the birth of your son. What great and exciting times you have ahead of you. As you begin your transition back into work, just remember that a sense of humor and the continuous wonder of a child’s smile are the biggest keys in staying sane while trying to balance work, family and home.

But I get off track, I know that is not your question. I think it would be a mistake to tell any potential employer not to contact past employers unless you are still employed and they do not know you are looking for a new job. What you can say is exactly what you told me. You can reiterate that your former supervisors are no longer at the company and that no one there would be able to provide supervisory feedback. Let the potential employer determine from there what steps they should take. If you tell them not to call-it gives a red flag that you certainly don’t need to be raised during a job search. If some of your past employers kept poor employment records, let the potential future employers experience their lack of sound business rather than you cover for them.

Good luck in your search and have a great time with your new son.

VickieVickie Seitner, Career Edge One, 402-660-6053

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