I graduated college with a Finance degree and a sense of endless possibilities. But, after almost ten years of successful work experiences, I found myself in a difficult position. I learned that the baby I was pregnant with would be born with a Congenital Heart Defect and was too sick to be put into daycare. Gone was my hope to return to work and continue my career momentum like I had planned. I was now required to take on the full-time role as Nurse to my critically ill baby. There were multiple open-heart surgeries and countless days spent at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Things started to get better but before I knew it, almost three years had passed since I had “a real job.”
With my son’s health in a more manageable place, I was desperate to get back into the game and utilize the skills, knowledge and experience I had worked so hard for. It was intimidating to dip my toes back in the corporate water and I started to worry about how long I had been out of work. A few Google searches later about employment gaps and my mind was in a tail spin. Almost every article was about how to spin the time away to employers, so it didn’t appear as a negative.
This got me thinking about our work culture and why it is such a bad thing to see someone with a break from traditional employment. While it may be a red flag for a small group of potential employees, most people with job gaps have legitimate reasons for them. Life can be very messy and that means not everyone can or will walk the same straight employment path. That does not mean, however, that those with employment history breaks are less worthy of their next job. In fact, their time away from work could have strengthened them as a person and a future employee.
For me personally, my break from employment was actually the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. It made me a stronger, better person and employee. I came back to the workforce with a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm. Don’t look at someone who hasn’t worked in a few years as a failure, instead, try to learn more about what happened during their time off. The exact thing that may seem like a deal breaker could be what makes them the perfect candidate.