Having gaps in your working history is not as uncommon as one may think. There are the most varied reasons why people decide to leave their career paths for a short or long time. At some moment of their lives, people may feel they need to give extra time to their newborn or children, an ailing parent, their enrichment in terms of some research or furthering education, relocation, or to find themselves. However, at other times, the decision is your employer’s. If you have been laid off, the feeling of looking for a new job will not be the same as when you took a year off to know the world. If having been let go, you may want to work on your anger, frustration, sadness, etc. before you start the search anew.
Once you know where you are standing, it is time to get the ball rolling. In this case, it is relevant to:
- Own the fact that you have been fired. Giving excuses or pointing at someone to blame will keep you stuck in the negativity. Turn the page, accept you were terminated, and take the best out of the bitter experience. If life gives you lemons ...
- Reinvent yourself. Faced with a new job interview, address the topic by explaining what you have learned and how you have grown from the experience. And remember that you are not the first nor will be the last in this situation.
Most times, you will be looking for a new job, while in some other cases, you will be lucky enough to go back to your old position. Faced with this last scenario, you may want to bear in mind a few things.
- How the institution has evolved during the time of your absence. For instance, if it has adopted new policies and what projects it is engaged in. Also, how it has implemented the use of new technologies. It may be of big help as well to know the changes your department has incurred in, and if it is embracing any particular project.
- You may have to reset your interpersonal relations with your colleagues. People change as you have changed. As Heraclitus stated: “everything flows and nothing abides.”
- Think of how your renewed comeback can contribute to the institution's improvement.
- Be ready to talk about your absence, telling others what you did, from keeping updated professionally to volunteer work, etc.
However, rejoining the same institution is not what normally happens. For a fresh start, there are a few considerations you may want to keep in mind:
- No matter if you were let go from your previous job or not, take it professionally, for example, establishing a daily routine for your job search.
- Update your CV, résumé, cover letter, and personal statement if required. If you feel rusted, look for a professional or someone who you trust for orientation.
- Possibly, you need to start at a lower position than the one you once had. Use it as a learning experience for some time before you jump to the post you want.
- If you want to get the same job you had before, you may have to take one or two courses for an update on your knowledge of things. With the development of IT’s, the world is continually changing, and so is possibly the work setting.
- You may need to research on how things are in your area of expertise. Read journals, look at university websites, and see what they are looking for. Talk to your former-colleagues and participate in networking events.
- Prepare possible answers for questions related to your work absence, always staying positive.
Above all, remember that honesty is the best policy. Even a white lie to make a time gap look better may make you walk out. If your potential employer finds it out, they will feel they cannot trust you and, consequently, you will leave empty-handed. Everybody knows that there are circumstances in life that can lead you away from your career path for some time. So the ticket is to show how you turn that time away from work on your side, demonstrating what you have learned, how you have grown up as a human being, and how that knowledge can be applied to your new job.