Gap Year: Adversity into Opportunity


 "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.: Winston S. Churchill

Those were the days when job seekers used to formulate an additional justification for their career gaps. For the time being, this pandemic has given a prevalent answer to any question asked for the reason of gap but gradually this question will pick up its gravity once again. Gaps are often accepted with a certain age group and career level. Freshers after completion of their graduation often seek to cast different career paths for example preparation of GATE, UPSC exams, CAT, etc. Being a competitive exam and a time-consuming process, they lose a year smoothly. Such gaps are easily acceptable because the majority of people go through the same process. But what about the experienced candidate who has spent a good number of years in the industry but suddenly quits the job without new employment? And this behaviour is not normal because of the different prejudices linked to it. A few universal impressions are: terminated from the job because of performance or integrity issues? But from the candidate's perspective, it could be anything like the behaviour of the manager, family issue, or health problems. But overall, it’s an intimidating question “Why did you leave your job without holding any offer?"

To respond this you can safely criticize your previous employer or uncontrollable external events but if we treat it as an actual problem then we need to find out the intent of the question first. This question intends to understand, why there is a gap? & most importantly, what were you doing to keep your skills alive? And most of the people are stuck on the second part. Because once they are out of the job market they keep looking for a new opportunity and 3-4 months are gone in the same process where you did nothing except searching for a job. This behavior is pretty normal because ultimately you are going through a hard time in your life but always remember hard times are good in their way, too. Because the only way you can achieve true happiness is if you experience true sadness as well. It's all about light and shade. People who make improvements themselves keep them busy not only crack of interviews easily but take a decent hike as well.

Suggestions:

Be honest with the reason: In this difficult situation don't bend; don't water it down, but try to make it logical; edit your soul according to the fashion. Don’t stress much to find out the excuse of your gap. If you were terminated because of a performance issue, then you must have a reason to explain it. For example, you could say that additional responsibility was given to the team but due to the persistent lack of workforce, your team lost track. If you were responsible for sales of a region but flawed products were given to you and that was the reason for your failure. Explain the real issue because people believe in it. A gap in skills and abilities reveals a golden opportunity! To take advantage of this situation presents the real solutions to those problems as well so that the interviewer can have a better understanding of your “Problem Solving” skill. Turn adversity into opportunity.

Research on the company well: Do research. Feed your talent. Since you have more time to learn more about the products, services, clients, mission & vision, CSR initiatives, target segments of the company. The best way to learn about such things is to connect with the existing employees on Linkedin and follow the social media pages of the company. Such kind of information reflects your enthusiasm towards the job. For example: if you were asked for the reason for showing interest in the company then you can easily refer to the existing product, culture, or whatever you have learned well about the company.

Flaunt your recently learned skills: The best yardstick for our progress is not other people, but ourselves. Don’t sit idle if you don’t have a job. There are various MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) available in the market. You can learn various topics for free and it doesn’t take much time. Alternatively, you can access free courses through Linkedin as well. These newly acquired skills will give you a psychological boost and reflect your inquisitive character. Nowadays companies are preferring someone who believes in productivity and who needs to become dynamic in their learning behavior. Don't seek to be relevant, just be consistent.

Ask for a good hike: Make sure you must be asking for a rational hike on your current package. If your employer asks for a reason, then tell them that you are planning to stay for a long time and as per the market standard you deserve a fair hike and explain your calculation reasonably. If you accept the offer on a low salary, then it will become very difficult for you to achieve the market standard even after a long time. Never settle for less than you deserve. The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.

Let's not become your career gap a limitation, find new motivation during this period. Once you believe in yourself it will lead to higher performance outcomes, career choice formation, improved employability, and a variety of life skills. The gap year can be seen as an educational process in which skills and critical reflection contribute to an individual's development.

“The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence; the past is a place of learning, not a place of living.”

― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

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