It would be great if every employment change was a step up in your forward-advancing career. Unfortunately, life does not always work out that way. There are times when a cookie-cutter resume and typical interview answers just do not apply to your situation. That’s where we can help!
Starting a job search when you’ve been out of work for an extended period of time, have an unstable work history, have recently graduated, or are changing professions can seem daunting. How much should you explain to a potential employer? How do you show your skills when you have little to no experience? Let’s take a look at the best way to tackle these unique job search situations.
If you’ve been unemployed for a few months or even a few years, don’t let that discourage you in your current job search. Remember, just because you weren’t getting paid does not mean you haven’t been working. You can fill gaps in your employment history with information about pro bono work, volunteer services, and continuing education. If you haven’t been doing these things now is the time to start!
You can also use your availability to start immediately as an asset to your job search. If the reason for your extended time out of work is no longer an issue, be sure to explain that in your cover letter or interview. For example, if the pandemic required you to homeschool your children, but they are now returning to school in the fall, share that information. The goal is to show that you are dependable and your gap in employment was not due to negligence on your part.
Bonus tip: Provide a brief summary, but don’t give too many personal details. Also make sure to explain the situation is over and you’re ready to start work. They want to be reassured that you won’t take another break from working.
Having an unstable work history can be a red flag to hiring managers. The best way to overcome that potential bias is to highlight your achievements and work skills. If you’re going in for an interview, then remember that this employer saw your work history but want to hear you out and get to know you better. That’s great! Use this opportunity to show that what you can offer the company is worth any hesitation they may feel about your previous work history. Honesty is also key! Whatever you do: do not lie in your application! If the reason for your work history was out of your control, like company downsizing, then explain that. If the reason was because of your own actions, explain what you learned from those situations and how you have improved your work ethic.
Bonus tip: Keep the drama at home while giving them a sneak peek into how resilient you are. Without too many personal details, explain how your unstable work history and past experiences shaped you into a hardworking, dependable employee who can handle anything thrown at them.
First off: congratulations! The start of your career is an exciting time! While you are not going to have years of experience to talk about, you will have educational experiences and fresh ideas to share. You want to be confident in your abilities, but it must be coupled with a willingness to learn from more seasoned colleagues. Talk about obstacles you overcame either during your studies or internships that helped you gain real-world knowledge in your field.
Bonus tip: Let the interviewer know that you’re ready to learn! No one wants to hire a fresh-out-school-know-it-all, but they love hiring enthusiastic employees who are willing to learn while using the experience they already have.
Changing professions may seem like you’re starting over at the bottom, but that’s not entirely true! Your previous profession shaped your work ethic, taught you how to be a team player, and inspired you to branch out into another field. Plus, many skillsets can be overlapped into several professions. Use your cover letter and interview to share what makes you excited about your new profession.
Bonus tip: You’re brave for changing professions. You switched up your whole life for a chance to do what you’re interviewing for – that proves passion, a willingness to learn, emotional intelligence, and more. Use that to your advantage during the interview!
Consider using a recruiter to help guide the process. Here at Westphal Staffing, it is part of our culture to make connections, recognize humans as individuals, and collaborate with professionals. Today, more than ever that culture is transforming the staffing experience, making us a different kind of staffing company. Call or text us today at (715) 845-5569!