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Career Gap in Resume? Here’s how to Overcome!

Introduction

Careers don’t always go as smoothly as we plan. Professionals have to face many career obstacles like financial goals, lack of skills, burnout, not having a clear direction, and more. However, one of the biggest obstacles is starting over the career. The most significant reasons behind starting over are career gaps to follow personal goals like building a start-up, job switching, career switching, and midlife career crisis. Family and financial issues are also some of the major reasons for career gaps, especially for males. This blog helps you understand how gaps impact career trajectory and how to do career switching.

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Impact of Career Gap and Career Switching 

Career gaps or sabbaticals are becoming increasingly popular these days. It is also common to have a 2-3 months gap when you take a new job. However, you cannot term it a career gap. However, job switching is different from career switching. It does not impact your career growth unless you switch jobs frequently. However, there is a stigma attached to career changes and gaps that such transitions can slow down your career.

There are both pros and cons of switching careers or taking gaps. One of the most significant advantages of a career gap is that you get time to figure out your goals and work on those. You can start a new venture, learn skills, spend time with your family, and care for your health.

On the other hand, switching careers gives you a new perspective. You can grow your network, face new challenges, and get new experiences. Most importantly, switching careers diversifies your knowledge and skill set. You also get a change of working environment and better compensation.

However, there are also a few disadvantages of taking a career gap or switching careers. It can slow down your career as you might have to spend a lot of time learning new things. You might lose sight of your career goals and miss out on the latest job trends and industry insights. It might also be challenging to explain the career gap in interviews. 

Therefore, the impact of a career change or a gap in your professional life depends on your planning and aspirations.

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Steps to get back on track after a midlife career change

A midlife career change can be scary. However, you can navigate smoothly through it by making a plan and achieving small goals. Here is how you can get on the right track after switching careers.

1. Networking is the key:-

Professionals all over the world emphasise a lot on the importance of networking. You can leverage your networking skills to build connections and ask for references or job recommendations, especially when planning a job switch or career switching. You can attend virtual or physical conferences, meetings, or events to build new connections. It’s also crucial to stay in touch with your colleague from the previous job. They can help you connect with other professionals.

2. Have a plan:-

Remember how you planned your career path in the initial years? You have to do that again. It is essential to have definite goals and a career roadmap. You’ll have to work from scratch again. First, you need to find the answer to why you want a career switch. Then make a plan to achieve your short-term and long-term goals.

3. Research the new industry:-

It can be difficult to learn about a new sector if you have spent more than half of your professional years working in a particular industry. You should spend a lot of time researching the relevant skills, the latest hiring trends, and how the new industry works before you jump into it. This is where networking will be of great help. You can request people to get on a quick call and ask for guidance or tips.

4. Acquire new skills and qualifications:-

Once you have done your research and gathered enough information, you can give your new career a head start by acquiring new skills and qualifications. Depending on your chosen industry, you might even have to learn technical and creative skills. It is better to pursue an executive degree or certificate courses online to gain an edge and enhance your knowledge.

5. Build a resume:-

The next essential and one of the most difficult steps is to build a resume. Sending your CV for an entirely different job profile is difficult. You can create a template resume and tailor it to add the skills and experience required for various job opportunities. You can also relate the experience and skills from your previous role to new job opportunities.

6. Apply for jobs:-

The next step is to apply for jobs. You must remember that gaining the required skills in 3-4 months is impossible. Therefore, you should start applying for jobs as soon as you get enough experience instead of waiting for the perfect time and opportunity.

The steps mentioned above also apply to career gaps. You will have to invest time in upskilling yourself, learning new trends, creating a resume, acquiring new skills, and preparing for interviews if you decide to restart your career after a long break.

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How to explain career gaps or career switching in interviews?

Career gaps and career switching questions are popular in job interviews. Employers often grill candidates with a career gap or career switch to understand whether they’ll be an ideal fit for the organisation. Therefore, it’s important to prepare the answers for this category of questions in advance. According to Stanford Business School, you should write down a script explaining your career gap or switch and rehearse it several times to prepare you for all the questions that might come your way. However, you should keep your expressions and tone natural.

Another important thing to remember is that you should focus on sharing only necessary points that explain your career gap. You don’t have to overshare details. Keep your answers brief and to the point. Being honest with the recruiters about the career gap is essential. Explain to them that you worked on a startup or had personal, financial, and health issues.

You should also focus on your skills, expertise, and the value you bring to the table. It will help transition the conversation from your career gap to your skills and experience.

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Conclusion

Career gaps or switching careers are both thrilling and scary. People with financial stability and the liberty to work on their goals have an advantage in career switching. On the other hand, professionals who put their careers on hold due to personal, family, or health issues might face more challenges in finding the right opportunities. However, the best way to avoid career obstacles after a midlife career change or long career gaps is to upskill yourself. You might have to learn the fundamentals of various concepts to make your candidate strong. Some of the best career options that you can switch to in 2022 are financial and investment advisory, digital marketing, data science, product management, and business analytics. 

You can build a career in these fields by pursuing degree or certificate courses. upGrad offers a wide range of executive degree and certificate courses like Advanced Certificate in Digital Marketing and Communication, Executive Post Graduate Programme in Data Science, and Post Graduate Certificate in Product Management. These courses offer theoretical and practical learning that will help you acquire skills and enhance your CV.

How can you mention a career switch in your CV?

You can write a 2-3 line objective explaining why you switched your career and how the previous role inspired you to it. You can also mention the skills acquired necessary for the new job. It is essential to add your career goals.

What are the best options for a midlife career change?

The best career options for a midlife career change are product management, digital marketing, business consultant, market researcher, and financial advisor. If you have a technical background, you can consider becoming a data scientist, web developer, AI and ML engineer, or blockchain engineer.

How to make a career switch?

Before switching careers, evaluate a few factors, such as why you need a career change and what are your long-term objectives. You should have valid reasons to switch careers. Next, you should do financial planning. Your savings must be able to cover at least one year or six months of expenses. You should also decide which field you want to switch to, what the career and growth opportunities in that field are, and what skills will be required. Prepare an elaborate plan and achieve each milestone.

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