As the trained and licensed mental health professionals at the online therapy service Talkspace can attest to, mental health issues can wreak havoc on so many aspects of our lives. From our ability to start and maintain relationships to our ability to take care of our daily needs, mental health issues are real health issues that can lead to a whole host of additional problems.
Outside of our interpersonal relationships, one area of our lives that seems to be particularly negatively affected by mental health issues is our careers. As the therapists at Talkspace know, mental health issues can make it difficult to find and keep a job. A lot of people who suffer from mental illness end up needing to take time off from a job or even leave their work due to their mental health condition.
This is a fairly common experience for people dealing with a wide range of mental health issues that can make having a stable and profitable career more difficult than it might otherwise be. Having gaps in your work history can be a “red flag” to potential employers who may feel reluctant to give you a chance at a great position.
If you or someone you love has recently experienced a gap in work history as a result of dealing with the ramifications of mental illness, there are some things that you can do to help improve your job prospects once you are ready to get back out there. Talkspace has compiled a number of different helpful tips that will help you to present gaps in your work history to potential employers in as good of a light as possible.
Many jobs allow, and often require, you to write a cover letter when you submit your resume or apply for a job. Therapists at Talkspace encourage you to use this as an opportunity to honestly explain your gaps, but to present them in the best possible light you can with an emphasis on your recovery. It can also help to not look at these gaps as failures or something to be ashamed of.
It takes guts to admit that you are dealing with real issues that you are struggling to handle. Taking time off to get the help you need and get yourself back on track shows initiative and can be seen as a positive way to take responsibility for the status of your health.
If the gaps in your career came in the earlier portion of your career, you have a lot less to worry about. Most employers only want to know about your most recent jobs or about 10-20 years of work history. So any gaps in your work history that were before this time period can be left off, which means you are relieved of having to talk about personal issues.
Just because you weren’t working doesn’t mean that you weren’t being productive. Therapists at Talkspace note that you shouldn’t neglect to discuss volunteer activities or education that you obtained during any gaps in your paid employment. These can actually be bigger assets to potential employers than general work experience.
While it is tempting to just keep quiet about your mental health issues, it isn’t something that is recommended as it can just lead to problems down the line. This doesn’t mean that you have to offer up anything about your illness, but you should note that illness was the reason for gaps. You should also remember that your resume is the way you put your proverbial best foot forward. This means that you should primarily focus on the positives—relevant work history, skill sets, experience, etc., that makes you particularly well suited for the position in question.
There are a lot of different kinds of resume layouts to the traditional chronological way of organizing your resume. This is why many people now use what is called a skills-based or functional resume. This type of resume has a different structure that emphasizes your skill sets, educational experience, and specific traits, rather than simply focus on your work history in order of the jobs you had and when.
Dealing with mental health issues is hard enough and having to take time off work and deal with the problems associated with gaps in work history only exacerbate the problem. The therapists at Talkspace understand the difficulty and offer a variety of helpful tips that allow the transition back into the workforce to be as simple and successful as possible. Just because you experienced a gap in your work history due to mental health problems doesn’t mean that you are doomed to be stuck in sub-par jobs for the rest of your life, you just need to know how to best present your assets and positives.