After your divorce, you may need to re-enter the workforce. It may be for additional income, to keep busy, or even to have health insurance coverage. Whatever the reason, going through the job search process can be a daunting experience.
It’s even more difficult when there’s a gap since your last employment. Read our blog “Going Back To Work After A Break” to help you begin your job search.
Anticipate questions about your gap prior to an interview.
To formulate your response about your gap, start by listing all volunteer and community activities you participated in during those years. Include activities at your child’s school, your religious community, or other nonprofit organizations.
For each organization on the list, summarize the event or activity. Include how many people participated and how much was raised or spent on the event.
Next, describe your role for each event or activity. If you were a leader, include how many people were on your committee.
Now, group the events/activities by organization and add to your resume. Your objective is to convey to someone unfamiliar with volunteering how much work is done behind the scenes for a successful event or activity. It’s a way to show your skills and responsibility level.
Here is a fictitious example to help you begin:
2013-2017: Member of Parent Teacher Student Association for XYZ School (public high school with 1,200 students, approximately 300 students per grade level)
2017 – Committee Leader: Led a committee of 10 parents for the annual Parent Teacher Social | managed an event budget of $12,500 | welcomed over 800 attendees
2015 – Grade Level Liaison: Worked with 9 other parents to organize fundraisers | encouraged other parents to become involved | developed the primary activities calendar | recognized educators
2010-2012: Volunteer for Girl Scouts
2011- Cookie Season Volunteer – managed inventory and money for sales of over 800 boxes of cookies
1990-Present: Member of ABC Church (non-denominational church with over 2,000 members)
2000-2005 – Sunday School Teacher: Taught weekly up to 10 elementary age students
2002 – Volunteer: Worked on one of the five Habitat for Humanity homes
From this example, you can see how each organization is treated
You may list this information chronologically with other employment information. Another option is to create a “Community” or “Volunteer” section on your resume.
As you practice answering the question about your gap years from the workforce, you have specific examples of how you used your time.
What if you didn’t participate in community/volunteer activities?
If life was too chaotic to participate in a community or volunteer activity, then practice saying what you did – managed the household. There’s no need to embellish on how difficult your spouse was towards you or anything relating to why you are divorced. The interviewer is only interested in filling the job opportunity.
Practice your response in front of a mirror to see your body language. Another option is to use your smartphone and video yourself responding. By practicing your response, you won’t be caught off-guard with this question. Also, you’ll learn to respond concisely.
Looking for a job is difficult and even more challenging when there is a gap in your resume. Practicing your response to questions about your gap will help you develop a strong and concise response instead of a rambling defensive response. Stay PEF (positive, enthused, focused) during your job search.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”