Probably one of the biggest issues I run into on a regular basis over the last few years is in handling gaps in employment. There are a few areas that candidates struggle with when it comes to explaining gaps in their work history.
The good news for you is that we live today in a much different environment. This new environment does make room for some understanding when it comes to gaps of employment. However, you need to be prepared to handle it in a positive way. Since 2008, we have experienced a deep recession in which on average the unemployment rate has remained around 10% nationally. What that means for you is that it is not unusual for employers and recruiters to see gaps of employment on a resume. There are still some best practices to minimize any potential for damage.
Always be honest. It is important that you be honest when presenting your background and never try to intentionally hide things. That being said, common sense comes into play as well. You do not want to be like Jim Carrey in the movie “Liar, Liar” who went around saying everything he was thinking all of the time. In other words, you would not go into an interview and “for the sake of being honest” tell the employer about all of your faults, weaknesses and mistakes.
Use the year format instead of months on the resume. First of all I like using the years only when showing length of employment because I think that it just looks better. It is easier to follow and helps the resume to appear clear and concise. Another goal of leaving off the months would be to not raise any red flags unnecessarily. If there was a two month gap in employment between your last job, let that come up in the conversation, or get asked in the job application, but do not willing supply potential red flags.
For severe gaps of employment, start with a functional resume. A functional resume allows you to move your places of employment and the dates to the end of the resume. This allows you to present your skills & abilities first while minimizing any gaps of employment.
Use an asterisk of explanation. While I do not advise this for every situation, one technique that has worked well under certain situations is to place an asterisk near the gap in question and then briefly explain the gap either directly under the job description or at the end of the resume. This helps to fill in the missing information that employers may see.
Regardless of which method you use when attempting to present your gap of employment, it is important to always present it in a positive light if at all possible. Just stating that there were no jobs available is not a good answer. If that is truly your reason for the gap then explain that you took the time to enroll in a Masters class or study for a certification examination while continuing to look. If they see that you are a proactive person instead of someone just waiting on things to happen for them, you will come across as a better hire.
- What Employers Look for in a Resume (CPACareerCoach.com)
- Career Change Advice – Have You Tried This? (CPACareerCoach.com)
- How to Deal with a Gap on Your Resume (money.usnews.com)
- 6 Ways to Fill Up a Major Resume Gap (money.usnews.com)
- How to Get Your Resume to Rank in Google (CPACareerCoach.com)