As a job gap, “eight years” is a long time. People assume that your skills have eroded and that your understanding of technology, work life and other areas are dated. You are therefore a risky hire for most companies. Your resume gap will be hard to explain. And most screeners will quickly screen you out.
There is really only one answer to this question: Networking.
The clearest and most successful path to a new job is through people you already know. People who trust you. They know your ethics and are willing to talk you up to their friends who are hiring. And you have to network with a purpose.
Establish Social Credibility
You need social credibility to find a job after 8 years. And in this case the social side of the equation is how you get the interview so that you can show the credibility side.
Option: Start Small
You also may need to start small. Part-time work (if this provides enough income), can be a safe way back into the workforce. And it may lead to something full-time at the same company. In this case you are less risky to hire because your impact is likely less (financially and work-related) is reduced.
Have A Strategy
If your strategy is to apply like crazy, you are wasting your time. Especially in a job market where there are more candidates than jobs. Instead, have a job search strategy.
Explain The Job Gap
You also need to have a clear explanation for the job gap – one that can be easily understood and not too personal. For example, sometimes the gap is caring for a loved one. This is a reason many of us can relate to but we don’t need to hear details about during a job interview.
As a parallel path on the credibility side, you need to show a re-engagement in your field. This can include classes at a local junior college, and updated certification, some temp or contract work, membership in a work association or a non-profit, joining LinkedIn and re-engage in conversations in your prior industry.
Be Aware Of Examples
It’s never easy to re-enter after a job gap. I helped my wife do it 1.5 years ago following this strategy. By talking her up and personalizing her skills and commitment, we got her some interviews where the hiring manager already knew of the gap but also was aware of how people felt about her. After that, it was “all on her” to get the job.
Don’t Rely On A Resume
Don’t rely on a resume to do the hard work for you. Even if you work forever on it. It’s a tough road. Especially when you are constantly heading uphill, working around obstacles and tiring out.
If you have a story about your job gap and how you successfully solved for it, share it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂
Note: this post was newly inspired from a question on Quora.