Long-term employment (5 years or more) with the same company has become more and more rare for the c-suite, and many other executives.
These days, short-term assignments are the norm and layoffs should be expected.
In fact, no job is permanent. Everyone should plan and prepare to be in perpetual passive job search. That’s just the way things are now.
The typical executive will transition from one company to another something like 10 to 12 times over his career. He won’t always get to choose when those career transitions will happen, so employment gaps are bound to occur.
Although gaps are more expected and accepted these days by recruiters and hiring decision makers, those candidates with consistent employment are typically still more prized. Unfair, but true.
So what do you do about those employment gaps, and avoid having your resume red flagged?
Here’s how a CFO client of mine and I dealt with his gap.
“John” has been a powerhouse finance management executive across multiple industries – Healthcare, Finance, Publishing, Telecom, Information Services, Technology.
Initially, he characterized himself as unemployed for the past 7 months, giving us a good chunk of time to account for on his resume and LinkedIn profile.
When we discussed what had been occupying his time since he’d been laid off, he told me about his volunteer work at the corporate level for a world-renowned organization in the non-profit sector.
For the past 2 years or so, John had been traveling to national headquarters and providing critical leadership, counsel, financial modeling and risk management expertise to the organization’s technology and finance people.
We found the perfect solution to his employment gap. This was solid, relevant experience, well-aligned with his value as a CFO, and reinforcing his brand, integrity and compassion as a leader.
“But,” he asked, “this is volunteer work. Can it legitimately be called a job?”
I explained that first of all, it’s not unusual these days for senior-level executives to have gaps here and there between jobs. There’s nothing wrong with those gaps being evident, but if we can close the gaps with experiences that support the job seeker’s candidacy, so much the better.
Whether or not you get paid for doing valuable work is irrelevant. He had been contributing many, many hours supporting and improving the organization.
My advice when faced with employment gaps:
- Look at ANY volunteer work you’ve done.
- If you’ve been out of work for several months, and really doing nothing, find somewhere to volunteer your time, so you’ll have something to show in your career marketing communications.
Just as your job search should focus on employers who are a good fit for your expertise, your search for volunteering opportunities should focus on organizations that are a good fit for your expertise.
photo by BluEyedA73