Career Gaps: Turning Them To Your Advantage

So you’ve been out of the job market due to redundancy. Or maybe you’ve taken a career break or been on extended maternity leave.

It’s all very legitimate but that’s not the way some employers and interviewers see it.

Here are 5 steps to help you handle conversations about your career gap and, in fact, turn the gap into a positive differentiator which helps you stand out from the crowd.


Stop Over-Planning and Over-Thinking


“We are dying from over-thinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It’s a death trap”

– Anthony Hopkins

Most people have a vague idea about the type of career or lifestyle change they’d like to make (even if they never share them with anyone else).

Some have aspirations for a completely new career. Some want a change in lifestyle and live in warmer climate or maybe in the countryside for a slower pace of life. Some dream of starting a small business or enjoying the flexibility of working part-time and enjoying a better work-life balance.

Despite these aspirations and very good intentions, most people never get their ideas off ground as they simply overthink things.

This over-thinking and over-planning usually results in overwhelm.

Which means they become paralyzed with indecision and do absolutely nothing. Over time the fear of change sets in and they become stuck until some major external event (e.g. redundancy, a health issue, a divorce or financial challenge) forces them to re-examine what it is they truly want.

Sound familiar?

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Any major change process is never ever a linear, step by step process. By it’s very nature, ‘change’ has uncertainty and unpredictability built in. Which is precisely why it’s scary.

So whilst you can’t ‘plan’ such a change process in a linear, objective fashion, there is a more subjective methodology that will get you there much faster:

1. Have a broad direction in mind


The 5 Stages of Reinvention

1. The Trigger

Something happens which stops you in your tracks:

• Major changes at work which make you think… “Is this what I really want?”
• Redundancy
• A major health problem (for you or a family member)
• The death of a close friend or family member
• A divorce or major a relationship break-up
• Financial difficulties
• Extended travel or volunteering activities that make you question what you’re doing with your life
• External factors that move you (e.g. 9/11, the tsunami in Asia, earthquake in Haiti)

Tip: Remember, everything happens for a reason. Some of the worst things that happen to you will teach you the biggest lessons. Sounds very clichéd – but in years to come, you’ll know them to be true.