By Neha Bagaria
The difference between JobsForHer and other, regular job portals is that we KNOW you have a gap, and we know you have it for a very good reason. We know that your gap has contributed to the EQ (emotional quotient) of our country and its HQ (happiness quotient) too, in terms of whichever member of your family you stopped working to care for, including yourself!
So here are ways to get creative and NOT HIDE that gap, but instead, illustrate what it did for you that you now bring to the table as a highly-valued, high-touch, highly qualified and experienced worker.
Here is an example of how to address the skills that every parent has learned on the job:
I’ve raised three children. Nothing I’ve done in life—not teaching school, not writing books, not even being president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America—has taught me as much about leadership as raising those kids. Here are a few things I’d add to my resume if I were entering the job market tomorrow:
Exceptional organizational skills that have helped me juggle multiple high-stress priorities
Effective communication skills and patience (well, maybe not so much of that) for managing a diverse range of personalities
Regularly developed innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems on a daily basis—seven days a week, with no vacations or holidays
Led high-pressure negotiations with no advance preparation
These are fantastic ways to highlight the skills you learned “on the gap”, which was also work!
Cover Letter – Be True to Your Story
Mahaswetha Roy took multiple breaks in her career to look after her kids and wrote about it beautifully in her cover letter:
If a woman had to quit her job because of a high-risk pregnancy, which she wasn’t prepared for at all, and was ordered to complete bed rest for most of it, here is how she could write her cover letter:
I am returning to work after I took a break in my career to look after myself during a high-risk pregnancy. I wasn’t prepared to take that break because I never saw myself as someone who would stop working – once a Sales & Marketing Executive, always one! But life had other plans and I realised that taking a step back in my hour of need would make me a better contributor to the workforce after I was fully recovered.
I cannot and will not go into the nitty-gritty of the emotional, physical, and mental upheaval that a high-risk pregnancy brings with it, to the intended mother, but, let me just say that it makes one an extremely attached, nervous, anxious, and scared parent, once their child arrives into this world. It has taken me a long time to realise that I can and should let go and take this step back to my career. I am READY – to work again, to restart my career, to restart my life outside of my home and my family, because they don’t need me to be there 24/7 , and I need to get back to the work that once defined me before I had to step away. I am ready to work in Sales & Marketing again, and I think that I would be a perfect fit for the opening in your company.”
These are different, unique, and gentle (yet hard-hitting) ways to get an employer/company to sit up and take notice of the person that the document represents.
Don’t let the gap hold you back. It was/is not a vacuum, airless, dead time. It is filled with hands-on skills, training, experience, and developments on every front. As one of our now rocking-her-new-job restarters so aptly put it, “Yes I was a stay-at-home-mom for 13 years. But, during those 13 years I wasn’t lying around like a piece of furniture in my home. I RAN it, and I ran my family’s LIVES. I was DOING a lot!”
You are more valuable than you know, more needed than you’ve been told, and more necessary to our country’s economic and social progress than you ever dreamed.
Here are a few sure-fire avenues (with JobsForHer directly) that can help kickstart your career:
Become a Volunteer with us to gain some invaluable work-experience if you’ve had a long gap. Our team is still small enough to be friendly, hands-on, and helpful to answer every question you’ve got for us! There are NO stupid questions!
Become a Returnee-Intern with us if you’ve had a short(ish) gap and don’t mind easing back in after your break, for 3 months, in either a part-time or full-time capacity, for a stipend, just like you did in college!
The tangible and intangible benefits of choosing these avenues are innumerable, but a few would be: the feeling you get when you step outside your door and head to work OUTSIDE your house, the warmth and camaraderie that comes with working in a team, the sense of purpose and achievement that working in a team towards a common goal instils in you, the immediate and swift brushing up of computer, research, written and verbal business skills you get from being on the job, among others.
You need to be applying to at least 10, if not 20 jobs a day if you are trying to get back into the workforce. Attend as many interviews as you can. You’ll only get called to interviews if you’re applying to 10-20 jobs a day – that’s a given. Once you start interviewing you will gain more and more confidence in yourself, what you’ve done, what you can do, and what you offer to the company where you’re interviewing. Confidence sells like nothing else can. Build it!
Upskill & Retrain
There are so very many ways to do this – online and offline – wherever you may live. Check out what’s new with an MS Office course, or any other computer skills course, get familiar with business writing by attending classes at your local college for a pass/fail credit, versus actual grades (an easy way to attend at your flexibility), do online tutorials in whatever skill/subject you feel you would like to work in now, for your second career. The paths are many; your spirit should be willing!