The gap in my Resume
Weekly I like to take time to look at ‘business’ stuff on linked in. Over the years I was working one of the best pieces of advice I heard was to always reserve some time for business research. One must keep a tiny toe in the ‘now’ of your career or things will just pass you by. It is also a way to keep your brain engaged in the larger world and not solo focused on the problem on your desk. It is along the lines of ‘pure research’ you go looking and learning not with a specific goal but with the goal of being open to what comes.
Today I stumbled on a recruiter that personally posted that people with ‘gaps’ in their resume are still very very worth talking to. Yes. They are. I am not sure what my career path is at this time but I’m actually really glad, for one, I am not with my former company. I took a giant leap leaving and my reason, on paper, was to stay home for my kids but other people take that jump out of a job because their boss was awful (actually the #1 reason most leave), lack of growth or they just didn’t fit the culture. They leap with nothing other than a supportive spouse or a savings account. I fully support that leap because you honestly can’t know what you are missing until you are there.
Most people I know started working at 15 or 16 years old and continued with one job or another through high school, college, and a career job. If working is all you know, you just don’t know what everyone not working is doing. So here is a sample of things I’ve done in my ‘gap’ that I either didn’t know existed or could never have done if I was working full time.
- Responsibility for another person 100%. Nothing has improved my learned management skills than kids. I can handle my 3, I can add on 3 more. I don’t want to run a daycare but I have acquired a knack for seeing the needs and managing them. Sometimes I have to be last, sometimes I need to arrange that I be first in order to be able to handle them. These are absolutely necessary skills for any manager in any field. **People also leave the work world to take care of a parent, same lessons here with even less ability to mandate therefore more leading skills emerge.
- Volunteering. Do you know how much of the world runs on volunteer efforts? Tons. Schools, library, hobby groups, local civics all have very limited funding and the cool extras (and some of the basics) come from volunteering. I’m not in the medical side of things personally but I bet hospitals need help too.
- Learning self-starter skills. How many jobs list ‘self-starter’? How does one learn to self-start when 90% of life is scripted? When you are home, alone, with a to-do list but nobody watching – that is when you know if you are a self-starter or not. Kids or infirmed people actually demand attention, those that stay home solo are the ones that hone the self-start skill. If you want to get something more than feeding and entertaining kids when you are solo; you learn self-start skills.
- Researching and trying new things. Back to my weekly research personal mandate; if you have time do it. You never know what you will find or what it will spark in you. Life at home can get really dull if you never leave your box. Look at the local world, look at the greater world, look up anything you hear about but don’t know much about. Read a site with different opinions, listen to NPR while running errands. You don’t need to spend money on every project you see, research tends to be free. If you have the basics in your mind don’t be surprised when you start seeing more of ‘whatever’ in the world and you can go deeper.
- Supporting others. I have plenty of friends that need a little help here and there and I can actually do that because I can juggle my time. I can help a friend with a new baby for a few days. I can make a meal for a sick friend so she can sleep instead of cook. I can rescue a friend with car trouble or who is locked out. I can watch a kid or two on a snow day or random holiday so their parents can both work. It takes more than one person to run the world, sometimes you need someone as a backup and the ability to step in and help out is not just a real-world skill but a business one too.
I could seriously go on for 1000’s of words and that is just my slice of life. Personally, I took the opportunity to do some freelance work. I got involved with my school board and ended up running a campaign and learning tons about local politics and honed plenty of business and communication skills. I’ve traveled more than I ever could have with a two-week vacation job, seeing other parts of the country help you understand your own and there are endless perspectives to gain.
I wish everyone could take a year and live outside the frame of a 9-5 job. Vacation is not the same, it is necessary but not the same. My life is not a vacation, it is a different version of work, sometimes easier and sometimes much harder. Nothing I’m saying is novel but the prompt from that one recruiter today hit a chord. It is your mistake if you don’t value what someone may have done and learned in their time outside an office. If you are on the fence about taking the leap, don’t worry that there is ‘nothing’ at home beyond cooking and cleaning.
With that I should hop back over to the work of the day. Then onto all the other things on my list.