Many people will experience a gap on their resume at some point or other, and with every single industry being impacted in some way by COVID-19 this year, it’s going to be even more common in the years ahead.
Life happens. It might feel awkward having a gap on your resume, but you’re not alone. The good news is, many employers know and understand this. A gap is no longer the ‘big deal’ it used to be — as long as you explain why it’s there positively.
Here are four ways to do just that:
1. Prepare your answer
The best way to explain any gap on your resume is to assume you’ll be asked about it and make sure you prepare your answer.
Time out of the workforce can often make us feel less competitive and cagey about our reasons for taking time off. Spend some time thinking about why you were out of work, how long for, and what you did with that time — what did you learn and how will it benefit you in this role? Keep answers concise and confident.
2. Just be honest
Employers will question longer gaps because they want to make sure you’re committed to the job you’re up for — if you’ve taken time out for medical or family reasons, they’re seeking reassurance you can do the job.
This is your chance to demonstrate your professional honesty. Make sure answers don’t come across as ‘confessional’ but focus on the confidently reassuring the employer you’re ready, motivated and committed to take on the job at hand.
3. Put a professional spin on it
Think about any transferable skills you may have developed. If you took time out following a redundancy to travel, you could share what you’ve learnt and how travelling has helped you improve as a professional (though time management, organisation or adaptability for example).
If you were let go, make sure you don’t bad-mouth your last employer. Stay positive and focus on what you’ve gained from the experience, not what you’ve lost.
4. Don’t panic
Remember: the employer isn’t seeking to catch you out, they’re just curious. Don’t get defensive or anxious if asked about a gap on your resume.
Bring the focus back to why you’re in the room and what makes you the ideal candidate. You don’t have to go into in-depth detail during the interview if the gap was for personal reasons. Advise the employer you took time out for personal/family reasons and it allowed you to refocus on what you’re looking for now in your career. Then launch into how that led you to apply for the job you’re interviewing for and the unique skills you have for the role.
Speaking as someone who’s sat on interview panels numerous times and observed how candidates responded to being asked about employment gaps, I can assure you it’s those who don’t treat the gap as an ‘issue’ that reassures all of us in the room that it isn’t.
There are now 91,000 more unemployed older people than there were 12 months ago.
The number of unemployed people aged over 50 in the UK has increased by a third in the past year, according to analysis of official figures.
There are 91,000 more unemployed older people than there were 12 months ago, the biggest percentage increase of all age groups and significantly more than the national average increase of 24%.
While the unemployment rateis significantly higher for those aged under 24, analysis shows that it is among older workers that there has been the greatest percentage increase.
Lawrence Wragg, 54, from Sutton Coldfield, was made redundant from his role as a project manager in March this year. Since then, he has applied for dozens of jobs but has only had a handful of interviews.
“My salary and age have definitely been a barrier to me finding a new job during the pandemic,” he said. “I find Zoom interviews challenging because I find it hard to convey a sense of personality.”
The data from the Office for National Statistics, analysed by the over-50s job site Rest Less, shows that unemployment levels for people aged 18-24 increased by 104,000 in the past year – or 25%. For those aged 25-34, the increase was 74,000, or 28%, and for those aged 35-49 years old, the increase was 51,000, or 19%.
Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, said that while the unemployment rate was significantly higher for those aged under 24, the youth unemployment rate was high a year ago before the pandemic arrived.
“There is no doubt that we are facing a youth employment crisis right now but less well documented is the fact that we are also facing a long-term unemployment disaster amongolder workers,” he said.
“Not only have we seen a rapid rise in unemployment in the over-50s since this time last year but our previous research has shown that once unemployed, this group is significantly more likely to remain in long-term unemployment than their younger counterparts,” he added.
Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, urged the government to increase back-to-work support for older workers. “It’s of great concern that many older workers appear to have been losing their jobs at such a difficult time, especially as they may face additional barriers returning to work compared to younger workers,” she said.
Earlier research by the Centre for Ageing Better and the Learning and Work Institute found that about 377,000 extra older workers – one in 10 male, and eight in 10 female workers in their 50s and 60s – face a significant risk of losing their jobs when the government’s furlough scheme is wound down next year.
Additional analysis of Department for Work and Pensions data by the Centre for Ageing Better found that over-50s were less likely to bounce back from unemployment than any other age group: just 35% who lose their job return to work “quickly”, with 29% remaining unemployed for more than 12 months.
Dr John Philpott, a labour market economist, social commentator and former director of the Employment Policy Institute, an independent public policy thinktank, said: “The popular view that the Covid-19 pandemic has … hurt the young far harder when it comes to jobs [but that] does not tell the entire story.
“With the level of job vacancies far below the pre-pandemic high, jobseekers of every age are struggling to find work and endemic age discrimination is making it doubly difficult for unemployed people aged over 50 whose number is climbing fast,” he added.
Responding to feedback from the Further Education (FE) and Training sector, the Education and Training Foundation (@E_T_Foundation) has refined its broad range of fully-funded #TLevel Professional Development (TLPD) courses to best suit practitioners’ needs.
The ETF has listened to the sector’s concerns over time constraints in the current climate and has tailored the list of CPD available before Christmas by postponing a number of courses to a time that better suits practitioners’ needs.
Online modules and live online courses, delivered by a trainer, are aimed at colleagues in different roles across the FE sector. This includes established and new teachers, leaders, governors and business support staff.
For teachers, the Teaching T Levels: Professional and Vocational Upskilling course will update and maintain vocational and professional practice, knowledge and skills. It provides background information about how T Levels have been designed, and how developing vocational expertise can align to organisational, regional and national priorities.
The Teaching T Levels: Enhancing Pedagogy course, meanwhile, will develop teachers’ wider understanding of effective pedagogy. It includes examples of effective teaching and learning theory and practice in technical and vocational contexts. Both courses are carried out across two sessions on dates in December (listed at the end of this article).
Those involved in delivering the Education and Childcare T Level – including teachers, trainers and support staff managers – are invited to join the Curriculum Design and Delivery Network meeting which will take place online on 30 November (2pm to 4pm). The meeting is one of many taking place across the different TLPD Networks, which facilitate collaboration, the sharing of resources and the development of collaborative partnerships. A workshop on 25 November (2pm-4pm), will take place live online aimed specifically at colleagues with an interest in the marketing of T Levels. The workshop will focus on raising the local profile of T Levels for successful recruitment.
The New Teacher Programme – aimed at new teachers with no formal training – supports the rapid development of basic teaching skills that will provide the knowledge and confidence necessary to improve teaching practice in preparation for T Level delivery. It introduces key concepts, developing an understanding of the ways in which students learn, how to support the breadth of the learner cohort found in technical education, and appropriate strategies and learning methods. The programme can be undertaken online, over three themed modules, or delivered live online by a trainer over the course of two sessions.
For Operational Middle Leaders and Managers, two online modules address leading and managing curriculum change for T Levels, as well as leadership and professional practice for T Level planning and implementation. Courses are delivered live online by a trainer during December (dates listed at the end of this article).
The Strategic Leaders Providing T Levels course is for senior leaders already, or considering, delivering T Levels. It will help them understand the impact T Levels will have within their organisation and across their wider community, looking at considerations for effective employer partnerships, organisational change and how T Levels are resourced effectively and positioned in the curriculum offer. There is an online course available, bookable via the TLPD Platform, as well as three two-hour sessions on 4, 11 and 18 December.
Understanding T Levels for the Post-16 Sector introduces T Levels and wider technical education policy, providing useful information for those in a range of roles about the changes they will need to make as T Levels are rolled out. Live online events aimed specifically at frontline staff and business support staff, are bookable now (dates below).
Each of these activities can be accessed by registering on the ETF’s T Level Professional Development Platform for FE providers and their staff. Registration is free, fast and easy, you can create your account by visiting the Platform. Where an online (flexible) course is available in your chosen subject, we recommend you undertake this prior to attending a live online event.
The online libraryprovides a comprehensive repository of the different and effective approaches to employer engagement and careers education. It brings together the latest thinking with selected research published over the past 40 years.
Free to access and searchable by keyword, it features summaries of a wide range of studies with abstracts and links to the full reports. Over the last decade the library has become a valuable asset for researchers, academics and policy makers. With research articles and reports from leading figures and education bodies, visitors can examine issues such as employer-led learning, youth employment, career related learning in primary schools, and social mobility, as well as information on gender, ethnicity, and specific subject study such as STEM.
The main library is complemented by an extensive on-line video collection and a physical library. The video collection comprises over 150 videos of researchers discussing their work and its implications for policy and practice, together with conference presentations and seminars.
The physical library located in the Charity’s offices just off Fleet Street, London contains many out-of-print reports, including material from the former Centre for Education and Industry at the University of Warwick, and is accessible by appointment.
The library plays an important role in shaping future direction in the field and driving positive change, explains Dr Anthony Mann, Senior Policy Analyst (Education and Skills) at the OECD:
“To understand the impacts of employer engagement in education on young people, employers and society and the characteristics of its most effective and equitable provision, it is essential to draw on high quality research and important to understand how schools and employers have sought to work together in the past.”
“Globally, I am aware of no better resource for accessing high quality materials than the Education and Employers library. Very well catalogued, it an essential resource for anyone interested in ensuring that today’s policy and practice is undertaken in light of existing knowledge.”
Chris James, Emeritus Professor of Educational Leadership and Management at the University of Bath reflects on the value of the Research Library:
First things first, Education and Employers has a crucial role in connecting the worlds of education and employment. The links between those two worlds are very significant for society generally, and for young people in schools and colleges, the link between those two worlds is central to their future lives.
It’s easy to develop ideas and conclusions about the relationship between those two worlds on the basis of personal experience and anecdotal evidence. Important though those ideas are, insights from high quality research provide a much more secure and robust base on which to develop theory, make policy and to determine the best actions in practice. Having a secure research-based foundation on which to build thinking about the relationship between education and employment is essential. It informs and underpins high quality policymaking and practice. That’s why the Education and Employers research resources are so important. They provide that essential secure research-based foundation which serious researchers, policymakers and practitioners require. Developed over 10 years, the collection is an invaluable resource for all those who have a serious interest in employee engagement in education, youth employment, education pathways, careers education and all those places where the worlds of education and employment interact.
The library charts developments in and changing attitudes to employee engagement in education and with articles covering a very broad range of issues including employer-led learning, the involvement of the world of work in school governing, careers education in primary schools and social mobility. Very usefully, the research is ‘open access’ – those with an interest in research reports and articles are free to access, which reflects Education and Employers values and charitable status.
The Education and Employers’ research collection has three sections, all of which inform a research-based understanding.
The research library provides succinct and clear summaries of over 200 significant research articles and reports from the last 40 years. Importantly, the articles have been selected on the basis of their academic quality and relevance to careers education and matters that connect the realms and employment and education. The way the library’s structured enables those using it to search by key words – very helpful as any (serious) researcher will tell you. The library gives the abstract and the link to the full report/article. It is a comprehensive collection comprising academic papers and wider research reports from leading research and education bodies including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); The UCL Institute of Education; The International Labour Market; World Economic Forum; the Edge Foundation; the Sutton Trust; the Department for Education; Social Mobility Foundation, King’s College, London; the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD); Universities UK; and importantly, reports of the Education and Employers own research.
The video library is a collection of over 150 videos where leading figures in the field talk about their research. This library also contains footage of conference presentations, symposia and seminars, which are often places where new ideas under development are shared and discussed. Many of these videos are particularly valuable for the way they bring research to life, give valuable summaries and syntheses different ideas.
Education and Employers research blogs are an important source of research information. They provide insights into ongoing research and issues that are emerging in the research world about research projects, and syntheses of ideas. This part of the library contains over 50 blogs. It is a unique collection.
In addition to these e-resources, Education and Employers has a large collection of ‘hard copies’ of research reports of various kinds. They welcome visitors to peruse the collection in person. Make sure you book before you go, though. Just contact the Education and Employers via email@example.com to arrange a visit.
All those who have an academic research interest in careers education and the relationship between the spheres of education and employment – academics and masters and doctoral students – will find the research library particularly valuable. It’s so useful to have the key articles and report gathered in one easily accessible place. The videos and the blogs will also give them valuable insights.
Policymakers (those who develop government policy) and practitioners (those at the chalk face as it were) will find the resources in the video library the blogs of particular interest. They may also find the research library resources useful and stimulating. Drawing on the high-quality research reported in the various articles/reports will enhance the authority of their work
Importantly, all those using the resources, both the e-resources and the ‘hard-copy resources’ will find them to be focused, organized and accessible.
In developing the research library, Education and Employers have put together a significant resource for researchers, policymakers and practitioners. I would urge all those who have a serious interest in the interplay between the education world and the employment world to explore the library in depth – it will enhance the quality of their work.
More than half (52%) of UK employees have said that the boundaries between their work and home life are becoming increasingly blurred due to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to insurance provider Aviva’s new Embracing the Age of Ambiguity report, employees said they are becoming emotionally remote whilst working from home.
Just 15% agreed that their employer is trying hard to understand what motivates them, and a quarter (26%) said their employer is genuinely concerned about their wellbeing.
Speaking to HR magazine, Paul Wilson, chief marketing officer at Aviva UK Life, Savings and Retirement said that employees’ needs and expectations have evolved while remote working.
He said: “Our evidence suggests that employees are increasingly ‘plodding’ through work.
“They seek work-life balance, control over career progression and help with wellbeing and retirement planning. Understanding employee motivations is a key opportunity for HR teams to strengthen engagement and combat the sense of ‘employee drift’ in the workplace.”
The majority (73%) of employees surveyed said where they work hasn’t changed since the start of the March lockdown. This has reportedly had an impact on employee mental health.
Two in five (43%) employees described their wellbeing as being less than good, and more than a third (34%) said they did carry on working even when they felt unwell.
Heightened anxiety has also led to employees working longer hours and taking fewer sick days over a three-month period (67% in February vs. 84% in August).
While the report suggested responsibility is on employers to ensure they provide the right environment for employee work-life balance and wellbeing to thrive, it stated it is “a two-way street” and employees need to play their part too.
Fifty-four per cent of UK employees said that their employer has worked hard to create a sense of ‘company togetherness’. They are predominantly doing this by embracing an open dialogue and communicating future working arrangements, according to 60% of employees.
In the report, Laura Stewart Smith, workplace savings manager at Aviva said: “A new ‘psychological contract’ will only work if it’s based on the same unambiguous outcome – better mental health and financial and physical wellbeing – and each party should play their respective roles to uphold this.”
In response to the report’s findings, Aviva made a series of recommendations it believes will help employers reset relationships with employees.
It advised that employers should personalise mental health and wellbeing support; maintain a sense of purpose, clarity and autonomy in the workplace; prepare workers for fuller working lives and the transition from work to retirement and create more targeted interventions by understanding personality types.
Shaw Trust has been selected as a Tier 1 supplier for the DWP CAEHRS in London and the Home Counties and are seeking Expressions of Interests from organisations who we can partner with in one or more of the below capacities:
Employers & Employer Representative bodies
Shaw Trust’s CAEHRS London and Home Counties EoI Opportunity
Shaw Trust is running the procurement of partners through Proactis as an open EoI. This EoI will remain open throughout the bidding period, however a deadline of the 26 November 2020 at 5:00pm has been set for the first phase of partner selection.
After two decades of growth in UK self-employment, a new study by the London School of Economics has found that one in five freelancers consider it likely that they’ll leave self-employment as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The research, undertaken by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics (LSE), found that the easing of pandemic restrictions over the summer only had a marginal effect on the self-employed, with 58% saying they had less work than usual in August 2020.
Self-employed workers who operate through digital apps in the gig economy have had more work, according to the LSE report. However, 78% of these workers – including parcel delivery workers and private hire drivers – said they felt their health was at risk while working.
Other key findings include:
28% of respondents had applied for a second grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS);
Of those who had not applied for either the first or second rounds of the SEISS grant, 38% were not sure of their eligibility;
A third of respondents think normal activity will not resume until after February 2021;
One in ten think it will never resume.
Of most concern is that 20% of freelancers polled said they “consider it likely” that they’ll leave self-employment as a result of the crisis – this rises to 59% among those aged under 25. The newly self-employed are more than twice as likely to report having trouble with basic expenses when compared to other self-employed workers (52% versus 24%).
Stephen Machin, co-author and CEP director, said:
“While the growth in self-employment has been one of the key trends in the labour market in the past two decades, there are now early signals that this trend could be set to reverse.
“By the summer, there had already been a sharp fall in the number of self-employed workers – this may be primarily due to the lockdown, but for some it will be due to realising the risks of self-employment. The COVID-19 crisis has vividly illustrated the social insurance available to different types of workers, with many experiencing the basic safety net of Universal Credit for the first time.”
According to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), “glaring gaps in support” are leading to “long-term, avoidable decline” in the self-employment sector.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the number of self-employed workers in the UK has already fallen to 4.53 million, down from 5.1 million at the end of 2019.
Derek Cribb, IPSE ceo, said:
“After the 2008 financial crisis, it was rising self-employed numbers that kept unemployment comparatively low – as uncertain employers looked for more flexible expertise instead of permanent employees. Now, this does not appear to be happening and the self-employed sector is in precipitous decline. Some self-employed are finding their way into full-time roles, but many others are joining the record flow into unemployment.
“Government must work quickly to stem this flow by urgently getting support to the left-behind self-employed groups. Extending support would be a cost now, yes, but it would be a temporary cost during the pandemic, to hold back an even worse unemployment problem later.”
The following article by Bill Camden was published in FEWEEK
Less than half of the schools in the government’s multi-million pound network of careers hubs have met a target for providing “encounters with further and higher education”.
A report published today by the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) shows that while more schools are meeting the eight Gatsby benchmarks for good careers guidance, progress towards full compliance remains slow.
“Encounters with further and higher education” is the seventh benchmark and sets a target for every pupil by the age of 16 to have had a “meaningful encounter with providers of the full range of learning opportunities, including sixth forms, colleges, universities and apprenticeship providers”, which should include the “opportunity to meet both staff and pupils”.
But today’s CEC data shows that just 47 per cent of the more than 2,000 schools in the quango’s careers hubs fully achieved the target by March 2020.
The figure was even lower when the CEC looked at achievements in its whole network of 4,000 schools and colleges – where 26 per cent met the target by the same period. For those schools not in the CEC’s network, 13 per cent met the target.
The findings chime with concerns from the education select committee about non-compliance with the Baker Clause – a law introduced in January 2018 that stipulates schools must ensure a range of FE providers have access to pupils from year 8 to year 13 to provide information on technical education and apprenticeships.
The committee questioned Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman on this issue during a hearing this week. Spielman said inspectors have found examples of non-compliance in schools and pledged to give careers guidance the “attention it deserves” when inspections restart.
Asked why they thought schools were struggling to provide encounters with FE providers for pupils, a CEC spokesperson said: “There has been sustained improvement in the number of young people having encounters with further and higher education. This improvement represents a threefold increase over two years.
“These are rigorous and demanding standards for schools and colleges. In order to achieve the criteria, they must achieve a range of measures such as meeting a full range of FE and HE providers and information about a broad range of apprenticeships.”
Today’s CEC report shows that overall national performance towards all eight of the Gatsby benchmarks has doubled since 2016/17 – schools and colleges have moved from achieving 1.87 of them on average to 3.75 as of March 2020.
Progress is higher when looking only at schools and colleges in career hubs – they are achieving 4.8 of the target on average.
The other benchmarks that appear to be proving most difficult to meet include “a stable careers programme” and “addressing the needs of each student”.
The CEC has come under fire in recent years from high-profile people in the sector like education select committee chair Robert Halfon, who has accused the quango of making little progress in improving careers education in England despite receiving millions from the public purse.
The first 20 careers hubs, for example, launched in 2018 and were backed with £5 million, covering 710 schools and colleges. A further 19 opened or expanded in 2019 and were given with £2.5 million as the programme scaled up to cover 1,300 schools and colleges.
Figures obtained by FE Week’s sister title Schools Week last year revealed that the CEC itself had received lmost £100 million since launching in 2014 to boost provision.
Careers hubs comprise colleges working with local schools and universities, training providers, employers and career professionals to pool their expertise on improving careers education in their area.
They include a “hub lead” who works with school and college leaders to provide “strategic support” on their careers plan and access to business networks, as well their delivery against the Gatsby benchmarks.
The hubs also have “careers leaders”, who offer face-to-face careers training to schools and colleges.
A CEC spokesperson said: “The evidence shows performance on this measure is significantly better in CEC’s Careers Hubs and network, proving that targeted investment has accelerated progress.”
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