Managing Job Gaps

You have put a lot of time, money, and effort into obtaining your license….make sure that it does not become obsolete if you have a planned or unplanned gap in your employment history.

There are a number of strategies to consider if you have an employment gap in your resume. A gap is an obstacle that must be addressed. As a resume writer, I know that you will be competing for jobs with people who do NOT have gaps – and for the most part, that will work against you. You might think that it doesn’t matter to employers, but it does – especially in this job market. Clinical skills quickly become rusty and techniques change even faster. Nursing/therapy surpluses mean that it is an employer’s market and they are able to chose top candidates with no employment issues. If there are shortages in your profession or your location, then the job gaps will have less importance and employment gaps are not as significant.

There is a way to strategically manage job gaps in advance if you have flexibility. In health care, we are fortunate to have many opportunities to work PRN. If there is anyway possible, I always advise people to keep their foot in the door in a clinical setting. Even if you work PRN 1 one day a month it creates job continuity for your resume.

If you have a gap in your resume due to illness (whether your own or a family member) you will need to account for your time. You can address that as “Sabbatical to attend to personal matters – situation now fully resolved” and include the dates. The same applies to a period of education or travel. Employers and ATS’s want accountability for your time.

A creative way of managing an employment gap is to develop a health consulting business. This can be explained as “seized an entrepreneurial opportunity to promote health and wellness”. You could include special health programs/educations that you provided at churches, schools, community groups.

If you are planning to leave a position and know that you will take some time off, an employment gap can be addressed by strategic planning. Consider waiting until January 1st to leave a position vs. leaving it in the fall or winter. You can list the years (without the month) of employment to buy some leeway in your visual optics on your resume.

If you are stepping away from clinical work and are positive that you will never return to it then you don’t need to worry about keeping your skills current. If you have even a 1% doubt that you might return some day, my recommendation is to keep up with that PRN job that allows you to speak to your “love” of being a clinician at heart. It will be much easier to make a case for yourself with an employer if you ever NEED to return to clinical practice. If you have left clinical practice, employers worry that you will turn around and leave it again.

If you have left the field for a number of years and are attempting to return to clinical work, it helps to take CEU courses and “refresher” trainings. Those do not level the playing field for you when competing with applicants that did not take a break but they may allow you to network your way back into employment.

Although writing your own resume may be your goal, the DIY resume writer may need to consider consulting with a professional resume writer to proactively manage employment gaps in order to be as competitive as possible in a challenging job market

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