Time off:  Handle career gap in job searching

by Kie, 8 July 2021

When I decided to changes my career path, it was taking more than 6 months to search the most suitable job for me. It takes a long way because I have to search the new job while maintain my past job responsibility. Once I was thinking of quit my past job and focus on job searching but I can imagine how hard it is to explain the career gap. So I decided to more careful no to have a career gap between moves to this new career adventure.


My friend in my home country took a three months parental leaves for her first new born in the beginning of 2019. Unfortunately she became one of several poor employee that got laid down during the pandemic. Currently, she already got new job and started her new career adventure. But before that she had a though time to handle the career gap and explain to the HR team who interviewed them. I asked her how she feel about that and how she overcame the obstacles.


She said that the laid off right after parental leave brake her self-esteem and shake her faith of her capability. Her thought at the time was “I’m not good at my job, I’m not as skilled at this as I think I am" and it hits her confidence badly.  But she understand that she couldn't just stop that way, she just have her first baby and she knows life will be harder if she rely her family expenses only to her husband. Then she tried to think that what happened to her is not really correlated with her capability, she was just in a bad position and bad timing. Pandemic affected many aspect of business, and she wasn't the only people that got laid down in that mean time. That time was a hard time not only for her, but many people in the world. Then she didn't feel alone anymore and started to built up her confidence again.


Reconnect and networking are tasks that she did genuinely to boost-up her self-esteem and finding her new opportunities for her  career path. Of course she had many interviews until she find her best new job. From that many interview experiences, she found that what she thought about her career gaps may be more important than what recruitment managers or HR thought. Along with many interviews she had, she could accept it confidently and calmly tackle this topic instead of feeling embarrassed or guilty when she has to explain about her career gap. She said that life does happen to us from time to time, and we can help ourselves by accepting responsibility for it – and handling it with maturity at the interview.


Some of the things she discovered when describing herself in interviews:

1. Be honest (within reasonable limits)

2. Emphasize something she learned while she was on a career gap (and how that made she a good candidate for the role)

3. Express appreciation for life that goes ups and down, and career breaks or career gap are necessary to start brighter new things. (And now she is back in the workforce, ready to make her best contribution.)


I realize that a secure career path is very important. But as what happened to my friend, life has its ups and downs. No one knows when we suddenly have to go through something we didn't plan for like a career gap. Hopefully my friend's story above can be a reference for your career journey. Or maybe if one of you is going through the same thing as my friend, I hope the above can help you or at least lighten your load.