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Although the question is general: How do you go back interviewing when you have a long period of unemployment in your CV, I do need to share some context with you.

I have an inherited condition that affects my health. It's not contagious, fatal or in need for hospitalization but it gets me tired and I'm no longer at 100% when that happens. An year and a half ago I had to quit my job and take care of myself because the effort and the stress were keeping me from properly addressing this health issue.

I'm also a young unmarried women without kids and this too would be a a problem for some employers because they will think I might get married and pregnant and they will need to replace me if that happens (yes it would be a form of discrimination but that is reallity).

Now, after so long, I need to go back to work. And here is my problem. With the context I shared, how do I justify or explain the long period of absence in my CV?

I'm fine now but stress and proper lack of rest triggers my condition so if I'm fully sincere at the interview some red bells will ring with HR and nobody will be interested in hiring me.

I kept myself in shape, technologically (I'm in the IT profession), but I'm not woried about that. I'm worried that I no longer look interesting to any employer given the situation.

So, how does one go back interviwing for jobs after a long period of absence?

  • You say you kept yourself in shape technologically. Could you explain what that means. A side note: unfortunately there are currently a lot of people that have been out of the workforce for a long time (2 years or more). Employers might assume that you were out of the workforce but looking. – John Oglesby Sep 22 '13 at 15:11
  • @John Oglesby: Thank you for taking the time to respond. I mean I have learned a lot. I kept an eye on job sites and see what technology employers were looking for and researched that as much as I could. I did prototypes, proof of concepts etc to learn the technologies. Sure, it does not equal experience, but I know a lot more now than when I left my old job. I retained and improved my knowledge but was not looking for a job for the last year and a half. – Jyanna Sep 22 '13 at 15:45
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    Related question, another related question, duplicate question about health issues and job gap. Does that duplicate address your concerns? I think it's nearly an identical situation. – enderland Sep 22 '13 at 16:25
  • @enderland: thank you for the references. I didn't found those when posting my question. – Jyanna Sep 22 '13 at 16:33
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So, how does one go back interviewing for jobs after a long period of absence?

How? You just get your resume out there, work your contact list, and get interviews.

Hopefully, even after a long period off, you maintained contact with former co-workers, former managers, and others in a position to recommend you or provide you with some useful leads. These are the kinds of people who can best speak to your abilities when healthy, hopefully without focusing too much on why you had to leave.

Clearly, you have a long absence that won't be attractive to potential employers. Worse, you have a condition that forced you out of the workforce, and which could force you out again. Be prepared to discuss this honestly and in detail with interviewers, and be prepared to explain why you think this time you'll be able to continue working (if that's actually the case).

On the other hand, perhaps you should be looking for short-term contracting positions where you can "rest" between gigs? Or perhaps you want to work part-time until you have built more confidence that your illness won't recur?

At least you want to target positions where you won't encounter enough stress to trigger your condition. Without knowing a lot more details, it's hard to imagine what kind of position that might be, but it's something you might need to consider. Perhaps there are positions like that in your field, or perhaps you need to consider changing professions.

Sounds like a tough stretch might be in front of you. Don't give up.

Good luck.

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Whether it's because I get tired easily or tired from stress, I've found I'm better off as a contractor, so that I can work hours appropriate to what I can take. While it would be good to get full time work, you may be better off working close to home on smaller jobs. What this requires, in effect, is 'extreme specialization'. You will have to get really really good at, for example, SQL Server ETL or Ruby-on-Rails or something that is in high demand and positions simply aren't being filled.

DBA (Database Administrator) doesn't work very well in this respect, since you need to be on-site. However, if you want a low stress job that is full time, focus on this. DBAs sit around a lot, they only get busy when things start to go horribly wrong, or when there's a major hardware upgrade. If you're good, you'll keep that to a minimum.

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