Making your life experience pay off

Recently, I have worked with some amazing job seekers by providing them with a free career counseling session, resume edits and cover letters. One question that came up a few times was how to handle career gaps.

I want to thank each of the job seekers for opportunity to travel their career seeking journey with them. It’s been such a pleasure working with them that I would like to offer two more FREE  sessions during the month of June! What’s that about? Click here to check out the details.

OK, so how to deal with career gaps? First, define the reason. Basically there are two types of career gaps:

  • Intentional gap? Did you intentionally take time off work to care for a loved one, start a business, go to school, illness, travel, volunteering, etc.?
  • Unintentional gap? Laid off, company went out of business, could not find a job after school, could not find employment in your field, etc.?

Either gap can seem positive or negative at the time. But even the unintentional lay off or other job loss can have a positive outcome; provide time to add to your skill list or provide time to mentally focus, etc. The important thing is to focus on that positivity for your own well being and when talking to potential employers.

Next explain why. Both types of gaps offer explanations that employers are open to hearing about. Why? is the big question, but can be easily answered and even provide additional experience that the employer may be looking for. For example if you had a child and wanted to take a few years off that is not only understandable, but you also gained certain skills such as time management. And possibly additional experience by joining parenting groups (PTA, coaching, managing a charity drive, etc.), taking some classes during your time off, focusing on advancing your current skills, etc.

Maybe you took time off to start your own business or help someone else start one. There are skills learned with any business start up. Even if the business was not as successful as you had hoped or you found out you didn’t like the hours or type of work, you still have valuable skills to add to your resume. Examples of skills depending on the type of business could include;  budgeting, inventory, scheduling employees, customer service, hiring, meeting deadlines, organizational skills, computer programs, writing, labor skills, and more.

Unintentional gap examples include being laid off or unable to find work in your field. Both are self explanatory and more common than you may think, but you can discuss HOW you handled this time off, how you turned a possible negative time into a positive situation. Did you learn new skills, enhance your current ones, etc.? Did you volunteer, take any classes, teach yourself a valuable skill, find a mentor, realize the career change you wanted, etc.?

A brief statement on your resume with the career goal you have now is an excellent way to highlight your gap. The cover letter will allow you to go into more detail and turn the gap into a positive opportunity to discuss your skills and experiences. Explaining the positive impact the gap had on you will help the employer focus on your skills, positive attitude and how your experiences will fit into the position you are applying for.

Whatever the reason a career gap can be presented as a valuable experience by highlighting your current skills and experiences while explaining your gap in a positive manner. Remember, the main focus of any interview is to discuss how you are the best fit for the current position you are applying for!

Questions about career gaps or other career topics? Please do not hesitate to reach out to me!

Thank you so much for reading! Please share any tips or questions you  may have below or email me at successencourager@gmail.com

experience.jpg

 

 

 

Advertisements

Side jobs – finding your perfect fit

Side jobs, part-time work, freelancing and start-ups are popular ways to earn extra money these days. They don’t just supplement income while working full-time; it’s becoming more and more common to use one or more of these opportunities as full-time income. This can either work out to be a career of juggling different jobs for ever or to gain experience for a certain career you wish to move in to. Some people love the variety it allows while others want to move on to something more stable and focused.

Whether, working a variety of side jobs, freelancing or part-time opportunities all allow a form of working for yourself and gaining experience. This can allow for future advancement at a particular job, focus on your own business start-up or allow you to explore different jobs until you gain experience and find something you want to do permanently. As you can see this flexible career lifestyle can offer a lot of paths to explore.

There are so many opportunities to make extra money or start a variety career lifestyle. You can read about many on any given day through a simple internet search. Some are very focused and require specific training; fitness coach, teaching Spanish, legal consultant, etc. But others are a bit more adaptable; personal shopper, event planner, freelance writer (with so many different topics out there to write about), pet sitter, etc.

I’m not saying the more adaptable options are easier or take less to do, I’m simply saying the skills to do them may already be known. A pet sitter might be a good choice for someone who has always been around animals, etc. While being a legal consultant requires more formal training and/or experience.

Before trying to force yourself into one or several of the available opportunities ask yourself what experience you already have, what you enjoy doing and what you could charge for.

Of course time is a huge factor. Do you have certain hours you are available due to a full time job, family responsibilities, classes, etc. Once that is determined you start to explore opportunities available during those hours; you may not be able to mow after a certain hour, but you could write a blog post or post a webinar about a topic you are experienced in no matter what time it is.

Here are a few questions and comments to consider when determining what side job (part-time, etc.) opportunity may be right for you and your current lifestyle –

  • What do you enjoy? Explore this, write it down, focus on how to make it a business or service to offer. Do you like photography? If you do and have a digital camera, can you offer your services as a second photographer at a wedding, corporate events, local bands that can’t afford someone that photographs full time, senior photos or high school sporting events, etc.? Be creative and be observant; what niche can your talent and passion fill? Don’t completely re-invent the wheel, just focus on a particular aspect that you can make better.
  • Do you want/need work outside the home or work from home? Answering this question allows you to explore jobs like mowing, pet walking, wedding/event planner and/or officiant, personal shopper or driver, etc. outside the home or writing, virtual assistant, web designer or content writer, online tutor, survey taker, jewelry or craft maker (selling online), etc. for working at home.
  • Do you enjoy helping people solve a problem, working with the public and communicate effectively? Do you enjoy working alone, creating more so than working face to face? Do you have internet and online work capabilities? Obviously, this answer gives much insight into what opportunities you will enjoy more than others.
  • What services are in demand in your area that will pay you to provide that service need? If you live in a neighborhood with large yards there may be an opportunity for mowing or landscaping that obviously is not in demand at an apartment complex. But if your passion is gardening and you want to work in that field but live in an area that doesn’t seem to have a need, be creative. Can you offer your services of plant watering, container gardening, cooking classes for container gardeners, etc.?
  • How much will it cost for you to offer this side job or start a business and how much should you charge? If it’s a part time job and they provide all that you need, how much does it pay? You will want to make sure it’s worth your time either by earning extra money or it provides an opportunity for you to gain experience.
  • How will you get work? You can search for part time work online through career sites or asking in person at area businesses. If you have skills to offer through side jobs or self employment, there are man sites out there to post your services on for free, you can search that particular talent/skill and see what third parties offer help finding that type of work , you can create flyers and hang them in busy places such as libraries, laundry services, public post boards, get business cards made and hand them out at any given opportunity, make yard signs and ask friends to display them in their yards for you, make or order decals for your vehicle with a web page and/or phone number as well as hats and tee shirts or other apparel, you can also advertise via social media sites and word of mouth.

There are other questions to ask yourself, but once you have focused and answered the few above you can start to search for opportunities to make money! Don’t over think it though, be adventurous and start exploring!

Do you have any tips to add? Please share them. Do you have any questions? Please ask them!

Thanks for reading, I hope this has inspired you to explore your options and to be creative.

How to gain work experience

I’ve been asked to share some options to gain experience and skills if you don’t have a lot of work history or educational degree seeking. If you are new to the work force, in between jobs, changing careers or simply looking for a job for whatever reason, gaining more experience is always a positive step!

My first option to share is volunteering. Volunteering allows you to learn new skills, explore different job types, make connections, add to your reference list – volunteer leaders/directors, etc. make great references! Volunteering can help you find the job you want in and out of the non-profit world. A lot of business owners, directors, bosses, managers, etc. volunteer their time and it can be a great way to make connections for future work opportunities.

There are many volunteer opportunities for practically every type of skill level, time availability and personality. You can volunteer hands on or even without leaving your home! Volunteer opportunities include; writing, organizing spaces or files, donation outreach, computer programming/web design, teaching, spending time with the elderly or those in care centers or hospitals, cleaning, developing mailing lists and/or mailings, research, event planning and setup, deliveries and personal drivers, fundraisers, thrift store or gift shop clerk, court appointed advocate, hospice care, handyman/woman, art projects coordination, animal care, project sewers, music lessons or playing, knitters, personal shopper, and so many more opportunities!

If you have more time and passion about a particular organization you can also look into being a board or committee member.

I volunteered for a non profit that was close to my heart for over five years, when the coordinator retired, they called me to offer me the job. I was shocked and excited. I accepted the offer and had almost three years in that position! During that time I made some great contacts and learned skills and gained experience that has helped me with obtain my current position.

You can search particular organizations for their volunteer opportunities or use such sites as volunteermatch.org to find your perfect match!

Another option is starting your own business and gain experience with the skills you already have; lawn-mowing, cleaning, administrative/office, handyman/woman, sewing, tutoring, travel guide, computer repair, freelance writer or web designer, cook, baker, or any other skill you enjoy. Advertise throughout your neighborhood, post your skills on social media, make business cards and leave them at libraries, laundromats, put a sign in your own yard and/or ask friends if you can advertise on their property, etc. Don’t let the thought overwhelm you. Most business can be started slowly with word of mouth advertising and/or free posts, etc. Depending on the business you may already have all of the tools / supplies you need or purchase at a low cost/investment. And each customer becomes a possible reference, repeat customer, and marketer for your business! Freelance work opportunities have allowed me to gain some valuable professional and personal work experience!

Online courses, community education classes, workshops, conference, etc. are also worth exploring. Some offer low cost or even free computer course, refresher classes, web design, accounting, etc. Some public libraries and public education institutes offer free basic courses. I have taken free online courses in the past to refresh some skills I had not used at a current position, but required at a new position I was applying for.

The experience you gain is resume worthy!

Do you have any other tips? Please share them!

Questions? Please ask them!

Thanks for reading!!!