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Job search: How to explain a short employment stint, big gaps, little track record

Years ago at the height of my corporate career I remember a colleague calling me a grasshopper.

I felt defensive about his comment. I had been recruited from one job to the next as opportunities came up and I took them.

I started my work trajectory later than my peers as after University I decided to follow a spiritual teacher for 5 years. After having children I was soon in the workforce as I needed to earn for my family - and I loved a challenge.


In my 40s after a change in personal circumstances I dusted myself off and headed offshore to begin what turned out to be the most exciting dynamic time in my professional life…fascinating international contracts as a consultant.


But. When I returned to New Zealand 15 years later it was very tough as recruiters would look at my experience and I didn’t check their boxes, I’d gone off professional piste…


So I had to reframe myself and impressive as they were work out how to make all those short contracts work in my job search. I was grateful I’d had the foresight to do retraining while working to stay relevant.


So my learnings in no order:

1 Be proud of a record of professional achievement and results, not apologetic you didn’t get the gold watch for long service.

2 For your cv and job interview, cluster your track record into sets of experience and outcomes from each.

3 Know your personal magic that makes you you and valuable!

4 Define your special skills and those you really want to build on.

5 Research and be clear on how you can deliver beyond a recruiter’s job spec using your life, work experience and attitude as competitive discriminators for the position.

6 After some basic ‘street time’ in the workforce, have the courage to go after work that truly motivates you - because anything less will not be sustainable.

7 We all need security, yet don’t get caught up on status and know sometimes you might take 2 steps backwards to go 3 forward… it’s not all about money.

8 Be humble and know you are the driver of your narrative and dreams.

These days after retraining I focus on coaching young people, school leavers, graduates, and women entering the workforce after kids. We explore these learnings as short work stints, or having a brief or out of date work trajectory...it is the same set of challenges.


I wrote this post after reading this article on LinkedIn.


How to explain a short employment stint

Cayla Dengate | 20 Aug 2021

Do you have a short employment stint on your CV?


It can be a source of anxiety when it comes to sharing your CV online, or preparing for a job interview. Career coaches are sharing their advice when it comes to jobs you weren’t in for very long, including:


👉 Sarah Felice: “Far from shorter stints being problematic, they are increasingly becoming the norm.

👉Sophia Poulos: “The key thing to discuss or put on a cover letter is what was achieved in the period of work, rather than focusing on what is missing.”

👉Andy Agouridis, MSc HRM, MCIPD 🧭:“Don't let this force you to stay in a horrible role.


Read the full #GetHiredAustralia New Zealand article

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