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

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Learning, bonding, self-enrichment

Learning something new or enhancing a current skill is priceless to the person learning and can cost little to nothing. Learning alone or with others builds stronger bonds and can even provide skills that can help you earn extra income.

While thinking of gifts for family I started putting together a list of date night ideas. As fun as cooking together, binge watching a favorite TV series, coffee shop hopping, day trip or movie night can be I think learning as a couple is a great bonding opportunity. So I decided to share a list of PIPs (Personal Idea Prompt)! I think this is for individuals, couples (great ideas for date nights), friends, groups, etc. Each suggestion could be a fun group night activity (for almost any age).

Today’s post is a little different than my typical BIP post (click here to read about BIP – Business Idea Prompt). PIPs focus on self-enrichment; bonding through learning and being creative. Again, a PIP can be done alone or as a couple or in a group. And as a bonus, a PIP can enhance an existing skill and become a possible income opportunity! Win-win; learn something new and interesting and find a new side job or full time self employment opportunity!

Technology makes it simple to learn a variety of skills at your own pace. A quick web search for step by step tutorials  on almost any subject produces dozens, even hundreds or thousands of results. Even if you do not have a computer or internet access at your home, you can visit some local coffee shops, libraries, friends, etc. for access or use the library to check out resource guides (or purchase instruction books at local new or used shops). This post mainly focuses on access to online videos/tutorials, but the suggestions could be read about in detailed instructional books.

Whether you try the list below with your partner, friend, sister, brother, parent or simply make time for yourself, your bond (or self-bond) will be deeper and you’ll have fun!  These suggestions are flexible and adaptive to a variety of situations; date nights, friend nights, self-enrichment or just an excuse to take a break for a few hours or an entire weekend!

The suggestions are highlighted by a topic and then some ideas for that topic, in no particular order. When searching the web, don’t get overwhelmed with all the results, look for a video tutorial  from popular posters and skim through to ensure the steps make sense to you, easy to access, read, etc.

Read through the ideas, pick one or three or ten, make a supply list (if needed), and enjoy your learning experience. These ideas can easily become a weekly or monthly (or ambitious daily) learning ritual. And of course, these are only a few topics, the possibilities really are endless.

  • Language – Learn a few key phrases in a day or weekend  or fluently speaking the other language(s) over a period of time. Learn a few words and how to write them in another language for creating mini works of word art, handwriting cards, etc. for family or for a part time creative business.
  • Craft/Hobby – Wood working, pyrography, calligraphy, knitting, painting, jewelry making card or paper making, magic tricks, card tricks, origami, paper quilling, crocheting, needle work, quilting, and so much more!
  • Cooking – Pastry baking, international recipe making, sushi rolling, candy making, crock pot basics and advanced recipes, chocolate tempering or advanced dessert making, and so much more!
  • Design – Web page, architectural projects, interior or exterior home design, fashion, furniture arrangement, painting and decorating, social media sites, blogs, site setup for art selling (Etsy, etc.), landscape, and yes, so much more!
  • Nutrition/Health – Yoga, tai chi, healthy eating habits, essential oil therapy, therapeutic massage (human and/or animal), meditation, exercise routines for specific fitness level, karate (martial art is a long list), herbs and health benefits, just to name a few ideas
  • Pampering – hair care, pedicure, manicure, facial, scrubs, foot soaks, bath salts, massage oils, face and body masks, makeup application, hair styles (braiding, buns etc.)
  • Writing – Poetry, hand writing, positive words, word art, art of writing, fictional and non fiction writing, etc.
  • Games – How to play….cards, poker, video game tips/tutorials, master monopoly scrabble crossword, solitaire, and more
  • Educational subjects – Philosophy, history, ethics, English, social behavior, science, math, biology, etc.
  • Masquerade/fantasy – Mask making, costume design, party theme planning, decoration making, part food, costume hair and makeup (face painting), accessory making (wands, crowns, gloves, etc.)
  • Mechanics/handyman(woman) – How to…change a tire, oil, brakes or headlight, etc. How to…repaint or wallpaper a room, install a new shower and/or tile flooring, light fixtures, basic plumping needs, new faucet, etc.,
  • Photography – Camera tips, programs, challenges/ideas, different topics (nature, people, pets, etc.)
  • Drink/Mixology – How to…make alcohol and non-alcohol beverages, fun drinks, punches, basic and advanced drinks, blended, etc. Smoothies, shakes, on ice, frozen, hot, etc.
  • Tea and Coffee – Learn the history of, steeping, recipes for mixing flavors/blends, how to serve and with suggested foods/desserts, etc. Loose tea options, grind your own coffee beans, and more!
  • Out and about – Gather info on local new restaurants, wineries, bed and breakfast, dance lessons, cooking classes, day trips, art classes, breweries, local tours, bakeries, etc. And plan a day trip/afternoon outing, etc. Spend a day planning together (or alone!) and then pick a date to explore.

There so may options I could keep typing until my fingers cramp. I hope this list inspires you to learn a new fun skill whether it’s to connect with others, find time for yourself or learn more for a possible income opportunity.

What have you always wanted to learn? I hope you make the time to learn it alone or with loved ones or friends or search out new like minded learners!

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