Read this article to discover the steps that you can take to overcome any challenges presented by your career gap by communicating more effectively.
Despite the growing influence of automation, applicant tracking systems (ATS), and artificial intelligence (AI) in hiring, human communication has never been more important.
You need to understand how to tell your career story in a well-rounded way. If you’re concerned that a gap in your work history is holding you back, it’s essential that you take the time to prepare how you want to communicate.
Focus Externally to Improve your Communication
When you’re thinking about how to improve your communication the tendency is to focus on yourself first. Instead start by thinking about who you want to reach.
Let’s apply this to your concern about the impact of your career gap. Ask what potential employers might be worried about. Put yourself in the employers’ shoes. If you were considering hiring someone with a gap in their work history, what questions would you have?
List the questions.
As a prospective employer, what types of information would you want to feel satisfied that you were making the right decision? As a decision maker, keen to avoid expensive mistakes, your goal would be to try to reduce that risk. You would immediately look for any red flags. As a career changer or job seeker, knowing this gives you a starting point.
Check for Factual Errors in Your Work History
This is perhaps the easiest fix, but no less important. Be sure that the factual information you present is error-free. Even minor typographical mistakes may be perceived as significant in this context.
Although the content of your resume or CV is different from that your LinkedIn profile, factual information such as dates of employment don’t change. Check the accuracy of the factual information you present across different places. Review your online profiles as well as your formal career documents.
Identify Your Audiences and Types of Career Communication
Once you have addressed potential employers’ questions, a second step is to consider the many different types of career communication. Begin by thinking about the people who will be connecting with.
List or mind-map everyone you anticipate communicating with and the type of communication you anticipate engaging in. Will you be communicating in-person or online? Will you be communicating by synchronously or asynchronously? By voice or in writing?
You won’t know all the answers yet, but even a beginning list will help you to better understand how to prepare. This will become a working document that you can expand over time.
Prepare your Messages
Now that you have a better understanding of who you will be communicating with, it’s clear that effective career communications extends far beyond your resume or CV.
Depending on where you are in your transition, you will be having different types of conversations. These range from informal chats with friends about your dreams to create a better career and work life, to how you communicate during formal interviews where you compete with other candidates. There are multiple opportunities to communicate more effectively.
Create A Comprehensive Career Communication Portfolio
Your written career communications includes both content that you compose and information that others provide. List the written materials most relevant for your particular situation.
Some of the options include core formal documents such as your resume or CV. Formal documents that others provide include references.
What other content might be relevant? Will you prepare a bio to use for networking and content for your online profiles and the public posts you share on social media? Do you need to gather information from others such as LinkedIn recommendations or letters of appreciation. There are a variety of options available.
Depending on your field, your written communications may also include evidence of your work, such as a portfolio that you prepare to demonstrate specific competencies.
As you choose what will be most effective for you, consider your natural communication strengths. Where do you feel most at ease? Take these into account as you decide what to prioritize.
There is no one path to success. The good news is that by giving yourself the time to prepare you can be more effective in your career communication.
Career communication can be challenging when you’re worried that your career gap is holding you back. There is no simple formula but there is a lot you can do to prepare yourself to communicate more effectively.
Here are four steps that you can adapt for your own situation.
1. Focus Externally to Improve your Communication
2. Eliminate Factual Errors
3. Identify Your Audiences and Create Relevant Types of Career Communication
4. Create A Comprehensive Career Communication Portfolio
You can’t change the past. But by giving yourself the time to prepare your career communication you can move forward more confidently towards a better future.
Jennifer Bradley helps professionals get unstuck and move forward in their career and work life. She offers individual coaching and consulting, leads workshops, and writes about personal and professional transitions.