by Wendy Dessler
Many people make the mistake of thinking an employment gap is a death sentence on your resume. The good news is that many employers are starting to see the light with these gaps, and there are a lot of ways they’re proven to lead to more motivation in the workforce. You’re refreshed, and you’re ready to jump back into the industry you love.
An employment gap is defined as a period of months or even years when the applicant didn’t have a job. There are a lot of legit reasons for taking such a gap, like going back to school or raising children. That being said, a lot of current job-seekers are looking for ways to strengthen their application even with this gap.
Volunteering is becoming the new normal. Taking the time to give back to the community while strengthening your skills will not only make you a better person but a better employee. This new trend is known as strategic volunteering, and it means looking for opportunities that strike a balance between looking great on a resume and giving valuable career experience.
If you have an employment gap, don’t give up hope. As long as you show you’re motivated through a strategic volunteer move, you have a good chance of impressing future employers and landing a job you love.
An Argument for Volunteering
Besides the obvious pros of volunteering (helping others, giving back, etc), research suggests it might actually make you more passionate about your profession. It’s no secret that many workers today struggle with apathy in the workplace. When jobs are mismatched with your interests, it’s hard to find that motivation.
Volunteering might be the remedy we’ve been waiting for as a working society. The Corporation for National & Community Service found volunteering gave applicants a 27% higher chance of finding a job after behind in a period of unemployment. That’s reason enough to give it a second glance, but it’s not enough to just start putting in hours at your local animal shelter. Unless, that is, working with animals is in your career goals.
While a lot of people in-between jobs feel like they have to turn down pro-bono opportunities, they actually help drive your career forward. Not only do they help fill that gap, but it helps get your name out there. Networking is always a good move. You also need to keep your skills fresh while building strengths in new areas. All of these things combined make a recipe for volunteer success. According to Career Building, 60% of hiring managers see volunteerism as a valuable asset when making hiring decisions. That’s a figure you can’t ignore.
Now that you know why volunteering is such a win/win, it’s time to talk about the opportunities you should look for. As we said, you shouldn’t just sign up at the first organization advertising for volunteers. Instead, consider your career goals. If you’re a web developer, for instance, is there a local organization that’s in need of a website revamp?
Ask around your local community for organizations. You might be surprised just what kind of reach you can find in your own backyard. If you have in-demand skills like healthcare, you shouldn’t have any problem finding somewhere to apply those strengths.
Many of these volunteer positions allow you to take a hands-on approach to projects you wouldn’t have so much control over in a traditional employment setting. You’ll be the expert, and you’ll be responsible for the success of something important. This will build your confidence in the rest of your life, and position you to achieve even more once hired.
Explaining Your Experience Gap
Let’s go back to your experience gap. Yes, you were out of a traditional job, but you were working. No matter whether you volunteered for a few weeks or for months, you have something to show for your time out of work. This is a great sign for hiring managers, and it means you have something to put on your resume.
Not only will your resume look stronger, but you’ll have something exciting to talk about during your interview. Discuss your passion for working with organizations, and how you were able to learn valuable skills you’ll apply to your next job. Your time off has given you a fresh perspective. You’re ready to jump into your industry with excitement, passion, and happiness.
Are you worried about a gap in your resume? Ever try volunteering while waiting for your next opportunity? Let us know your thoughts and plans below!