Career gaps on a resume are always a worry when it comes to the interview process. No matter what’s behind them, most employers will look at significant gaps as a bad sign. And, in most cases, they’re right. More often than not, career gaps happen for two significant reasons. One, is that you’ve been unable to find work for a while. This doesn’t bode well for obvious reasons. There is often a second reason. This is that you left your previous job in a hurry. This can happen for many reasons. Dismissal, for instance, is often behind gaps like these. Or, it may be that you went up against your boss for ill-treatment or had a hostile work environment that you just had to exit.
On the face of things, this is an admirable trait. No employee should be afraid to stand up for what they believe in. But, from an employer’s perspective, an issue like this can be an instant red flag. Does that mean you have to roll over and accept ill-treatment to secure future positions? Not at all. But, it does mean you may want to think about how you fight the battle. Luckily, we have a few pointers to help ensure you emerge unscathed.
Consider Getting Legal Advice
As an attorney, I do advise that getting good representation can help you know if your workplace treatment was legal (or not) and guide you through the exit process. Not all ill treatment is necessarily against the law - it may be a clash or working styles as opposed to harassment or discrimination - so get good advice on this before taking next steps. If there has been treatment that an attorney believes may be illegal, an employment law attorney can help to fight your claim for illegal workplace treatment. An employment law attorney can help control the forms of communication so that you are not the one always in constant communication with your old company. Attorneys can also protect your reputation from a pay dispute to a matter of harassment by taking things down the correct routes. They avoid all that messy back-street fighting which could tarnish your resume.
Never get personal
While there’s nothing wrong with going up against bad practice, it’s essential you stay professional. You should deal with the matter at hand, rather than getting personal. Even if your boss is at fault, avoid underhand remarks which take the issue out of context. Mud sticks, and making personal enemies is never a good idea. Instead, let your lawyers do the talking if you escalate matters. By going down this route, you may even be able to secure a favorable reference from the employer in question. As such, even your sudden departure might not damage your future job prospects.
When the fight is over and you’re in front of a new employer, be open about what happened. Again, don’t get personal here or mention names. Simply acknowledge that they will find this when they search your employment history. Better you give a brief outline of what happened ahead of time and turn this to a positive. State what you’ve learned, such as the ability to communicate and solve issues. That way, no skeletons are waiting in your closet, and you can keep the interview on positive footing. Often, that’s all it takes to move forward.
If you have other advice about how to deal with a gap or sudden departure, please make sure to tell you fellow boss babes in the comments!
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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