Employment gaps happen. And, they don’t look good. You may have worked for a clinic that went out of business, leaving you without work. Or, you may have taken a break from your nurse practitioner career to start a family and are looking to reenter the workforce. Poor performance may have gotten you kicked out the door of your last job, and, ready to reform your ways, you are hitting the job search circuit. Whether your career hiatus is for a legitimate, or potentially concerning reason, how do you get employers to give your resume a second look despite a gap on your resume?
Depending on the reason for your temporary departure from your nurse practitioner career, there are a few effective methods for addressing an employment gap with a prospective employer.
Know what constitutes a concerning employment gap
Taking a few months off between jobs, or after graduation from your nurse practitioner program, isn’t a big deal. You may have wanted a short break to take time with family, or used the time to coordinate a move or conduct a job search. Don’t feel the need to explain an employment gap of a few months or less, unless you are asked to do so in an interview.
Be straightforward and succinct
When addressing any gap in employment, be straightforward, honest, and cut to the chase. Giving too many details, or a long, drawn out explanation, makes the situation sound like you are trying to cover something up. State your reason for leaving the workforce, then be quiet. Your explanation is complete. If the employer has any further questions, they will ask for specifics.
Practice your reply
Before you walk into an interview, practice your employment gap explanation. Make sure you can deliver your explanation confidently and professionally. If you were fired from a previous position, avoid the blame game. If you were laid off, stay away from self pity. Stick to the facts. Rehearse the delivery of your explanation out loud until you can do so with poise.
Your professional past as a nurse practitioner may be called into question if your resume is emblazoned with a lengthy employment gap. Reassure your interviewer that you can overcome this hurdle by outlining your plan for moving forward. Even if you left your previous nurse practitioner job for an admirable reason, like raising children, employers want to know you’re committed to returning to work. Let your interviewer know why you want to return to the workforce and that you have a long-term career plan in mind.
Write a cover letter
Lengthy gaps on your resume can lead employers to toss your job application to the side. Consider addressing the reason for the gap in a well written cover letter attached to your resume. The same rules apply to addressing employment gaps in a cover letter as in an interview. Keep your explanation brief, factual, and to the point.
Don’t try to hide it
Finagling the formatting of your resume so that jobs are not listed chronologically, or by omitting dates, is a major red flag to employers. Your employment gap will be uncovered at some point in the interview process, so it’s best to address it up front. You put yourself in a worse position by attempting to keep the career disruption concealed.
Plenty of nurse practitioners have taken a career break, or recovered from an unintentional employment pitfall. You can bounce back after taking time off from your nurse practitioner career, however preparing your approach is key to doing so with ease.
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