James Harrison volunteered during his gap in employment

June 27, 2011 Last week WTAE news reported that Steelers' linebacker James Harrison spent some time assisting the charity "Virgin Planet" in packing basic living supplies for tornado victims in Joplin, Missouri. With the NFL lockout continuing, players like Harrison are not allowed to go to work. In a player's case it is the equivalent of being unemployed during the summer as they can not go to their workplace to practice, or are they paid any bonuses that would have been due to them. Some players have taken the opportunity to take longer vacations and enjoy their time off with personal recreation.

However, other players have used this gap between the end of last season and the "still to be determined" start of next season to get out and volunteer. In James Harrison's case he is using his time away from work to assist tornado victims and bring much more media attention to a worthy cause. Are you also temporarily out of work? How are you using your time? It actually makes an important difference in the long run. Some employers look at gaps in employment and think that if you haven’t been working there is a greater tendency for you to lose basic, but essential, work skills.

How you can use James Harrison's example if you're looking for work.
The best defense against an employer hung up on employment gaps is to not show any employment gaps. Fill the gap with some productive task that can be related to work. You’ve had a part-time job, you’ve been attending college classes in order to complete your degree, you’ve been speaking at civic organizations on topics from your industry, or you’ve been working (actually volunteering, but say “working”) at some charitable organization performing your regular work skills. Learn more about unemployment here.

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