Post # 1
Has anyone ever managed a career dip when they were facing the prospect of being unemployed for 6 months or more? Or maybe not unemployed, but underemployed due to external circumstances such as marriage or relocation?
My company recently had multiple layoffs and I was unfortunately one of those cuts. I’m using the time off to network/job hunt, spend time with family, and plan my summer wedding. However, complicating this matter is that I will be relocating after marriage this summer, so it’s difficult to job search in my current city since I’d have to quit in 2 months. I’m trying to job search in my new city (FI’s city), but not having much luck because summer is a slow hiring time in my (niche) industry. I’m now faced with the reality that my resume will likely have a minimum 6-8 month gaping hole in it.
Has anyone dealt with long term (6 month plus) dips in their careers due to marriage or relocation (not due to parental leave/taking care of children/aging parents?). How did you manage? Last year I had applied to this fellowship that would have been perfect right now, but unfortunately I got to the semi-finalist stage and failed to get off the waiting list.
I know that relocating to FI’s city is going to be a career setback for me given the lack of opportunities /low salary there, but it’s a compromise I agreed to a long time ago so I can’t really go back on that promise now. Since we are long distance, it’s been a struggle for me to accept that decisions are now going to be made mutually and that unfortunately is going to mean that I’m going to have to be in an underwhelming career situation for a few years until it’s “my turn” to choose where we move next. Career sacrifice is a hard thing for me and I’m struggling to deal with it because my parents made a lot of sacrifices themselves to give me a good education in the field of my choosing.
Background: I am 28, been working for 3 years now post Master’s degree in 2 different jobs for 1-1.5 years each. I’m a little scared my resume is going to look like I can’t remain in a job for very long, but I had personal reasons for leaving my first job after just 1.5 years.
Post # 2
I have been through a large resume gap due to layoffs, as have many friends of mine. I’m an engineer and was working in a niche industry when my company got hit with massive layoffs. Both me and my now Fiance were let go (we worked together).
Neither of us were willing to relocate for new jobs because we love where we live (well, he was later when we started to get desperate but I put my foot down lol) We both ended up having 8 month-1 year gaps on our resumes because we ended up changing industries, and it took a LONG time for a company to take a chance on us.
In the end, I was just honest about my circumstances. I was honest about the layoffs (it helped that it was well known my industry was in the middle of a huge downturn). I made it known that I was looking to change industries, and that I had the good fortune of being able to take my time looking for the perfect fit. The right employer came along and gave me a chance, and it has been a great fit for both the company and me.
A friend of mine went through something more similar to what you did. They were living in another state and her Fiance at the time got a new job that they were going to relocate for. She was then hit with a layoff (at the same time we were for the same reasons as she worked for the same company as we did) after he left and they were long distance. Ultimately, she decided to do what you are doing: focus on the upcoming wedding and relocation. She was probably unemployed for approx. 6 months before she moved, and she found a good job a couple of months after she relocated so it all worked out.
I also worked at a background check place in college for hospitals. Tons of doctors and nurses list relocation for spouses as a reason for leaving, and it didn’t seem to affect their hiring rates in their new locations.
My advice is keep doing what you’re doing: network like crazy, apply to jobs where you are relocating, and focus on the wedding in between to keep yourself upbeat. If you’re really worried about the resume gap and your limited work history, maybe try to take some temp work if that’s out there since you know you can’t stay long before relocating. The right employer for you understands that layoffs and relocations and emergencies etc. happen.
Post # 3
I’m 28, recently finished my PhD, and my prior jobs between undergrad and grad school had all been seasonal (4 months or shorter) field assistant positions.
My boyfriend and I were long distance for the five years I was in grad school. I finished in May 2017 and moved back to our home state to move in with him (and, I thought, to get engaged, but that’s another story). I applied for jobs remotely during my last year of grad school, but no one called me out for an interview, so I did not have a permanent job lined up before the move.
I ended up taking another temporary field assistant position for the summer, which was at that point below my skill level, both for the income and because I was told there could be funding for me to stay on as a postdoc for 1 – 2 years after. Turns out there wasn’t any postdoc funding for me, so when the field assistant position ended in September, I was unemployed.
I decided at this point I would hold out for a permanent position rather than settling for another seasonal job. I also focused on government positions because the work/life balance appealed to me. I applied to about 10 openings between August and January. I had one interview in September that ended up being a rejection. My next interview didn’t come until mid January, with a second interview at the start of February, and the offer a week after that. I started work at the beginning of March, so I was unemployed for just about 6 months.
My gap in employment was not mentioned during either of the interviews for my new job; they only asked my availability (I said I was wrapping up getting the papers from my PhD published, but beyond that I was seeking a permanent position to start when needed). One interviewer asked if my last position ended in September because it was a seasonal job, and I said yes.
Honestly I did feel quite defeated and powerless during my period of underemployment and then unemployment. But those feelings were also exacerbated by the fact that I was also waiting for my boyfriend to propose. I’ve felt so much better since getting and starting this job though. The pay and hours are great, I’m in my home city, and the work is what I expected it to be and has so far been less stressful than academic research. So I think it worked out fine.
Post # 4
While your resume may have a gap in it, your explanation of that gap is what is really important. I don’t think it would keep you from getting an interview if they like what they see with the education/experience you do have on your resume and if they are impressed by your cover letter. In your interview they may ask about the reason behind the gap, but fortunately it was through no fault of your own.
There are many reasons why a person might have it and some reasons are better than others. Your reasons are logistical and make complete sense– so you can easily explain that in a job interview. Utilize your cover letter to focus on the education and experience that you do have to offer. If you do this better than the next person, the gap won’t stand in your way.
In the meantime, I would try to think of and pursue any volunteer work or small jobs that would enhance your experience in any way. They may not fill your resume but couldn’t hurt to have more to draw from in an interview.
Post # 5
Thank you guys so much for all your excellent advice and for sharing your stories! This really helped me a lot. I’m going to keep job searching and keeping my head up with wedding planning 🙂
monter : I’m sorry that both of you were hit at the same time! That sounds incredibly difficult and stressful :(. I’m really happy to hear that you both were eventually able to land on your feet! Thanks for sharing the story of your friend as well, that sounds very similar to me. To be honest it was getting difficult to plan a long distance wedding along with my (stressful) job, while also managing a long distance relationship. So in a way it’s good because I’ve been going full speed ahead for a long time now and in a way, it’s nice to be at a slower pace right now and be more deliberate about my career search. I’m trying not to give the layoff reason to too many people (and instead using the relocation for spouse reason), but my industry is super tight and people talk so I don’t want the wrong word to spread either.
girlfriendphd : Ouch, I’ve heard the academic job search is really tough and can stretch a very long time. I’m really happy though, that you were able to find something you love in your home city :). Yeah, I think other things happening at the same time (loss of a close friend, wedding planning stress, family medical issues, etc.) has compounded my feelings of powerlessness. In your case, it sounds really sucky to be waiting on a proposal and waiting on a job offer at the same time – I can see how that would lead to feeling helpless. I’m glad things are looking up 🙂
xdanielle : Great ideas, thanks so much! I’ll ask around if any organizations need voluntary help and will stress the relocation in my cover letter.