When You’ve Been Out of the Market

July 23, 2010 at 2:22 am Leave a comment

Workers drop out of the job market for a while for many reasons. Some are personal: to raise kids, take care of parents, or perhaps take some time off to travel or volunteer if they have the means to do so. Sometimes, people take a portion of their buyout or severance payment and take some well-deserved time off figuring out what they want to do next; and who could blame them?

Then, usually, reality — whether financial or otherwise — intrudes, and it’s time to look for a job. Among the first things you do is to update your resume — but what do you do about that time you took off? How do you explain it? Or should you try to work around it and hope that your previous experience and contacts will get you in the door? But once in an interview, should you bring it up?

Hiring experts say that as with most elements of a job hunt, it’s best to be honest and not to hide this period when you’ve been out of the job market. Yet it’s also important that you seek to explain this gap (see Dec. 2 post, ” How to handle gaps in your resume”) in a way that you makes you a more attractive candidate rather than someone a hiring manager will worry about.

Here are some tips for addressing on your resume and in interviews a period when you’ve been out of the market:

*Seek to make the time off work for you. As long as you’re going to be honest anyway, and that really is the best policy as recruiters these days verify employment history, you might as well craft an explanation of your time off that helps to make you a stronger job candidate. For instance, if you took a year off to travel following a buyout, you can point to free-lance work that you did and also how the time provided you with an opportunity to reassess your career goals. If you were out of the market to focus on raising your kids, you can emphasize volunteer work that you did — which could show an employer that you’ve already been juggling work and home, and are prepared to do so when you return to an office. You may have to make a strong case as to why you’re ready to be back at work full time, but don’t be afraid to use the time off to help paint a favorable portrait of you as a job candidate.

*Acknowledge that you may need some training to come back up to speed on what you missed. Ideally, before you dip your toe into the job pool, you’ll figure out what technical or other training you may need to be competitive and take some courses to prepare yourself. Highlight on your resume the recent training you’ve sought out — that will provide a good opening for you to discuss with the hiring manager the steps you’ve taken, and are willing to take, to be able to fully handle these job duties.

*Don’t overemphasize the gap. Referring to an illness, or a layoff or even to the illness of a relative may be an uncomfortable area for a hiring manager. Focus on your background, skills and accomplishments on your resume and cover letter, and make the best case for yourself in an interview. Don’t presume that the fact that you’ve been out of the market disqualifies you for positions you want — you may just have to work that much harder to get them. Let the hiring manager bring up the gap and then honestly address it. But don’t dwell on it and don’t apologize or act defensive. And try to focus on the things you did during this period — free-lance or volunteer work, for instance — that help qualify you for this position. Don’t let this gap define you as a  job candidate.

*Well, here’s a link to something that as a veteran journalist depresses me, but also fascinates me — kinda like being unable to stop staring at a car wreck. A denizen of a “content farm” (Demand Studios, which I am now sorry to say that I listed as a free-lance lead on this blog) tells what it’s like “down on the farm” — cynically turning out junky material for pretty good hourly pay. Ugh; this isn’t journalism. But it is an interesting tale — from PBS MediaShift via mediabistro.com:

Ex-Demand Media staffer: ‘I was completely aware that I was writing crap’

*And the good folks at marketwatch.com, who still seek to do actual reporting, today provide important information on some benefits available to job hunters through two pieces of legislation. The first link focuses on help for unemployed homeowners having trouble making their mortgage payments that was tucked into the financial regulatory reform legislation that President Obama signed into law this week:

Bank law brings mortgage aid for unemployed

*And this next link brings us up to speed on the unemployment benefits extension that Congress finally passed this week, and which the President signed right away. Some good news — payments will be retroactive:

Congress extends unemployment benefits

*Now for some job leads to wrap up this work week:

*The U.N. Foundation (UNF) in D.C. has an opening for a director of online communications:


*Generations United in D.C. is looking for a public policy analyst:


*With a hat tip to dcrtv.com, WYPR-FM in Baltimore is looking for a full-time producer for its news and culture show, Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast:

7/21 – Producer, Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast… Baltimore, Maryland,
WYPR-FM… WYPR’s news and culture show Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast seeks
a full-time Producer. Responsibilities include developing ideas and booking guests
for interviews, conducting background research, writing interview scripts, preparing
hosts for interviews, and recording and editing for broadcast. Position requires
at least two years of experience in journalism and radio production, including editing
with Adobe Audition. The candidate must be able to write quickly and accurately
for broadcast. Precise attention to detail is a must, as is the ability to multitask.
The candidate must also be comfortable in Maryland Morning’s highly collaborative,
deadline-driven environment. The show covers arts, culture, news, public policy,
and more — all of it related to Maryland. Proven interest in a wide scope of issues
from a local perspective is a plus. Candidates should submit a cover letter, resume,
two references, and two audio samples of produced interviews to Business Manager,
WYPR, 2216 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218, or to jobs@wypr.org.

Open until 11:59 p.m. August 8, 2010. EOE.


*These next two listings are via poynter.org. First, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has an opening in D.C. for an executive writer to support the commission’s external advocacy activities:

Executive Writer
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

*The AP has an opening in D.C. for a technical specialist:

Technical Specialist – ENPS
Associated Press

*And courtesy of journalismjobs.com, for these next several listings, The National Law Journal in D.C. is looking for a deputy editor:

Company: The National Law Journal
Deputy Editor
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires:
August 25, 2010
Job ID: 1186762

The National Law Journal, one of the nation’s leading legal affairs publications, is seeking a Deputy Editor based in its Washington office.

Duties include: assigning and editing daily articles for NLJ.com, our blog and e-newsletters; helping conceive and edit features for the weekly print publication – especially the paper’s Washington-focused Legal Times section; overseeing a collection of special reports, such as our annual report on law firm size and growth and a revenue and profits survey of D.C. firms; working with other editors and the reporting team on long-term projects and staff development; assisting with our digital transition and helping brainstorm data-related projects that will appeal to the legal audience.

The successful candidate will be able to work with reporters of varying levels of experience and to collaborate closely with the editor in chief and executive editor on daily, weekly, and long-term projects. We value strong news judgment and a can-do, collaborative attitude. We want an editor who has or will develop a deep passion for legal affairs and business reporting. Previous editing experience required, and a legal and/or business reporting or editing background is a plus.

ALM places a high value on employees and strives to be an employer of choice. To that end we offer competitive salaries, professional growth opportunities, and a comprehensive selection of benefits that include: medical, dental, vision, 401(K) and life insurance options.

Qualified candidates should submit resume, clips and a letter explaining your qualifications for the position and salary requirements to opportunities@alm.com for immediate consideration. Only candidates selected for interviews will be contacted. No phone calls or agencies please. ALM is an equal opportunity employer that encourages and values diversity. M/F/D/V

*The Huffington Post has an opening in D.C. for a politics reporter:

Company: The Huffington Post
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
August 25, 2010
Job ID: 1186667

The Huffington Post has an opening for a politics reporter whose immediate task would be to cover the 2010 mid-term elections. The position is based in our fast-paced Washington bureau.

Duties would include reporting and writing well researched, authoritative and provocative articles multiple times daily, filing on multiple platforms, and going beyond the horse-race stories to focus on policy and important themes.

The ideal candidate:

* Has significant experience reporting and writing in a breaking news environment * Has experience covering Congress and/or political campaigns * Is extremely knowledgeable about the political landscape * Has strong organizational skills and the ability to manage multiple sources and information at once * Can make solid, quick judgments about such issues as news value and veracity * Has proven experience spotting key themes and trends * Is familiar with a broad range of Internet news and media outlets * Can work flexible hours * Is interested in engaging and fostering HuffPost’s national network of citizen journalists and volunteer contributors. * Is passionate about covering politics not just because it’s fascinating, but because it matters

Send resume, references and clips to pitney@huffingtonpost.com

*And last but not least today, this could be a good position for someone just starting out — the Association of Governing Boards (AGB), a D.C.-based higher education association, is looking for an editorial assistant:

Company: Association of Governing Boards
Editorial Assistant
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
August 24, 2010
Job ID: 961670
Website: http://agb.org

Editorial Assistant. National DC-based higher education association seeks a “cut-above” assistant to provide editorial, administrative, and desktop-publishing support to the editor-in-chief of Trusteeship magazine and director of publications. In editorial services, responsibilities include document creation, project tracking, proofreading, research, record keeping, layout of Trusteeship columns and other in-house content pages, redesign of service pages as needed, and short writing assignments. For AGB publications, provides editorial and production support for AGB print and digital publications and marketing initiatives, including publications production coordination and some desktop publishing. For additional information, please visit our website, http://www.agb.org. Excellent benefits. Congenial work environment. Send cover letter, salary history and resume to juditha@agb.org or by fax to 202-223-7053. No telephone calls please! EOE/AA/Disabled/V.

Happy hunting and have a relaxing weekend. I’ll be back with you again Monday morning!



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