What’s Wrong With Having Career Gaps?

Looking for a Job

Employers are notorious for having a bias against candidates with breaks in their career history, and I admit I’ve been guilty of that same sin. In fact, whenever I saw a long break on a resume, I jumped straight to one or more of the following assumptions about the candidate.

  • Well, you obviously don’t need money since you can afford such a long break, so you won’t be a motivated employee.
  • You must be an impulsive/irresponsible employee who will quit at the drop of a hat.
  • There must be something wrong with you. If not you should have been able to find another job while still employed. Like everybody else.
  • If you’ve been out of the workforce for so long, your knowledge and experience are likely to be obsolete already.

Then, I would wait to see what “excuses” the candidate made to explain away the breaks. My list of acceptable reasons included retrenchment, end of contract, illness, taking care of family, and relocation. Yep, that was it. Any other reason was, well, “unreasonable”. But after I took a few breaks myself, I now know the error of my ways and want employers to keep an open mind.

So employers, please consider the following.

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The Sleeping Beauty.


Once in a while you meet people in the workplace that truly amaze you. And not in a good way. I once knew someone who kept falling asleep at his desk. I’m not talking about a catnap during lunch. I’m talking complete lights out, loud snoring during office hours. AT HIS FIRST WEEK AT WORK.

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Why Does Everything Have To Be Called A Project?


Companies love labelling anything and everything a “project”. It’s almost as if by slapping on that word, the task gains a certain prestige and therefore suddenly becomes worth spending time on. Otherwise, it’s just stuff that people have to do, but don’t get recognised for.

And this phenomenon is particularly prevalent in companies that hide under the guise of “collaboration”.

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Time Zone Differences In A Global Company.


I’ve worked for a couple of non-Asian companies and the one thing that gets me insanely irritated is having to adapt to the timezone of wherever their headquarters is located. If in Europe, that’s not too bad – Asia still has some overlapping work hours. If in the US, good luck – early morning conference calls at 6am or late night calls at 9pm are the norm. Although annoying, I do accept that these situations are sometimes inevitable for work productivity.

What I can’t accept is when companies take employees having to work in a different timezone for granted, especially in cases when the employees aren’t paid an early morning or night shift allowance, or allowed flexibility to come in later or leave the office earlier (i.e. “deducting” the hours from their normal working day).

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When To Leave A Bad Boss.

Devil Boss

You don’t leave a job. You leave a boss. That’s a saying that’s been articulated over and over again by experts. So when you can’t stand your boss, how long should you stick it out before calling it quits? When assessing whether it’s time to throw in the towel because of a boss, I like to use a simple 2-factor criteria:

  1. Competency
  2. Niceness (for lack of a better term)

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The Office Fashionista.

Ugly Dress Baby.jpg

There’s always a “Christmas tree” in every office. You know, the one employee who takes it upon herself to dress up all glamorous for her mundane 9-to-5 job. I’m not against using clothes and makeup to express your personality, but this colleague’s fashion sense left many speechless. And not in a good way.

I didn’t know her well, but heard that her husband doted on her, and encouraged her to splurge on whatever she wanted. Which was apparently, ugly clothing. Her favourite travel destination was Hong Kong, where after each trip, she’d return with bags full of bad fashion – fringed crop tops, furry boots, sequin dresses. She used the office as her runway, displaying her loot to the detriment of everyone’s eyes.

What was truly baffling was the number of employees who complained to HR and expected us to do something about it.

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Stop Telling Employees To Speak Up.


I hate companies that insist employees “speak up” or “be vocal” in order to “raise their profile”. Now I get that if you don’t take the opportunity to interact with the higher ups, it’s a painful reality that they won’t even know that you exist. So come performance review time, you’d more likely than not be passed over for that raise or promotion. But speaking for the sake of taking attendance is just wasting everyone’s time, and good management needs to learn to recognise these airtime thieves who typically fall into three categories.

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Job Postings Don’t Have To Be “Cool”.

As part of the brand’s visionary evolution in meeting changing customer portfolio, they are seeking an influential change catalyst for this role, who will be empowered to lead the architecture of a refreshing strategy and implementations aligned to the expanding business aspirations.

This was the opening paragraph of a job posting I saw recently. I read it twice, and what went through my mind was this:


I’ve seen a recent trend of “innovative” job descriptions as companies try to make themselves stand out, and it annoys me to no end. A job description should do just that – describe the job. Throwing together a mishmash of big buzzwords does nothing to further that objective. The above ad tells me that (i) the poster wants to hire a psychic who can mysteriously understand what he wants; and (ii) the jobseekers who respond are likely only people who randomly apply to every job under the sun.

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Should I Apply For a Job That Requires More Experience Than I Have?


“I saw my dream job with a great company on a job forum. However, they are looking for people with at least 15 years of relevant experience. I have less than that. Will the hiring manager even bother to consider me?”

Ah…the tenure threshold. Viewing length of experience as having a linear correlation to work proficiency is one of the biggest misconceptions recruiters can have. But when you’re inundated by dozens of resumes, it’s one of the quickest ways to reduce that to a manageable number, especially for the poor time-pressed person who’s sifting through them.

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