Will a career gap go against me?

I
left my job as personnel manager in London to relocate to another part of the
country, to be nearer my friends and family, and buy a property (I could not
afford what I wanted in London). I found it difficult to get a job in the North
while working in London, so I resigned, knowing I had a three-month notice
period and hoping to find something before I left. It has taken longer than I
thought to get work and I am concerned that a gap on my CV will be a problem.
Will the fact I left a job without one to go to and have not been working for a
couple of months go against me? I am looking for locum work to fill the gap.

Peter
Lewis, consultant, Chiumento

Having
a break is fine, as long as you have a justifiable reason. Relocating to a
different area having gained London experience is a valid reason reflecting, no
doubt, a carefully thought out career strategy.

When
putting over your case, stress the determination you have brought to fulfilling
this career decision. By implication, you will bring the same qualities –
decisiveness and determination – to your new role.

A
short gap should not be hard to explain and it should not count against you, in
the light of your reasons for leaving your old job.

What
will become important is how you use this time, particularly the thoroughness
of your job search and the opportunity to upgrade your skills. Show that your
job-hunting has been conducted with professionalism. It sounds as if you are
concentrating on the advertised jobs market, which covers half or less of the
opportunities around. Use your connections to find out about employers and send
them speculative applications.

In
the meantime, getting a locum, consultancy or interim assignment could be a
good way of gaining experience and contacts in your area. It will also help to
fill any potential gaps in your CV.

Jo
Selby, associate director, EJ Human Resources

Resigning
in order to find new employment is not uncommon, and is something prospective
employers are familiar with. It is unfortunate that your leaving your previous
employers coincided with the economic slowdown and hence it has taken you
longer than anticipated to secure a new position.

While
it is not ideal to have a gap on your CV, so long as you have a good reason,
which you have, the fact you are not working and so immediately available can
be attractive to prospective employers.

Having
said that, I recommend you continue looking for locum or contract work, and you
might want to widen your net beyond agencies in your search for new employment.

Margaret
Malpas, joint managing director, Malpas Flexible Learning

I
think in London the reality of difficulties in the job market elsewhere are
often not so apparent to us. Think about how you can fill the gap with positive
things to offer a future employer. This could include locum work, charitable
work or training and developing new skills.

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