Fill Employment Gaps – For Free

This is the 5th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.

Being unemployed really sucks!

Having a break in your career can be more frustrating than ever and can move you outside the active job market.

Depending on how long you have been unemployed, you may already have have gone through the mental trauma of being ignored – not receiving any interview calls or responses to your job applications.

Now the question is,  what can you do to make this situation better or what steps can you take to position yourself in a winning spot?

As Andrea Ballard recently wrote, it is time for a career check up.  And the diagnosis is . . . address what you can do to keep yourself relevant in your industry even if you are out of a job and fill in your career gap.I think there are quite a few readers out there who are in this predicament.

How do you avoid this career gap? What do you say if an interviewer asks you about this break?

Apart from being highly active on LinkedIn and participating in networking events of your local SHRM chapters, what else can you do to improve this situation rather squandering away time waiting for the interview calls to happen.

Well, I am not saying to make up a job to fill in the gap in your resume because that would be foul, but what you can do now is to operate as a FREE-lancer. yes, totally free. There is no law that says that you can’t have an unpaid job on your resume. Go find one now.

Engage yourself in volunteer work or jobs without pay, especially in nonprofit organizations. If you are an accountant, consider making yourself available to organizations that require accounting services (Click here for volunteer opportunities in your city). Open yourself up such opportunities. They make not pay you anything but the experience and goodwill you earn can be invaluable.

People will love to have you. You will be able to display your potential to do the job, prove that you can be a valuable asset who can contribute to a good cause and possibly create an opportunity for yourself.  You never know, after few months of your stellar voluntary service, a position might open up where the organization would be happy to retain you for permanent salaried employment.

And when an interviewer wants to talk about this FREE-lance job, articulate what have you gained  and you will look great! Tell them how by doing this job you kept yourself pertinent in the industry, gained experience and developed new skills.

Chances are are a potential employer will value your volunteering experience over another candidate’s gap. You will show that you are a go-getter and a results-oriented person who an employer would benefit from hiring.

What do you think? Would you be a FREE-lancer today?

About the Author

Nisha Raghavan

Nisha Raghavan-Your HR Buddy!! is an Talent Management Professional and a blogger who likes to paint her thoughts with the shades of HR at . She writes about Work Culture, Social Media, Organization Development and engaging employees with Employee Engagement Initiatives. Her experience in the corporate world was as an HR Deputy Manager from Reliance Communications Limited, India where she specialized in orchestrating Talent Management & Development. She is also a proud Co-host of DriveThruHR-HR's #1 Daily Radio Show and a contributing author at and Connect with her on Twitter @Thehrbuddy.


Andrea Ballard

Nisha, thanks for the link! Volunteering is not only a good way to fill in resume gaps, but a way to fulfill the many pursuits and interests people have outside of their day job. It’s a perfect way to start at the beginning in a completely new skill/industry/area and get your feet wet!


This is what I always tell my job-seeking friends! As Philosophy majors, it’s sometimes hard to find a job without having volunteer and unpaid internships on your resume. In fact, it is because of the skills we learnt volunteering and interning in unrelated fields (actually everything is related to Philosophy…) that most of us that have have successfully found jobs after graduation.

I’d also suggest that beginning projects and demonstrating how you have spent your time unemployed learning useful skills is also a great way to add information to your CV.


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