Many people used to view gaps in employment as a kiss of death. An obstacle that meant their job search would be even more difficult. However, in today’s society – especially after the downturn of the economy in 2008 – having an employment gap is not that unusual. In addition, more people are taking time off to go back to school, raise their children, care for ailing parents, or travel the world. Life happens, and all you can do is make the best of it and move on. Employers understand that not everyone has a seamless career history transitioning from one job to the next.
What that boils down to is – don’t stress too much. There are many ways you can address gaps on your resume and still show that you are qualified for the position.
- Ignore small gaps.
If you have a few months or here there, or even a year, it’s likely not that big of a deal. List only the years of employment rather than months and years to draw less attention to these gaps. You’re not lying, and many people only list years. Your resume does not have to encompass every job you’ve ever held, so being strategic about how things are listed can work to your advantage.
- Briefly address time off.
If you took several years off to raise children or care for aging parents and are concerned about the impression the gap may make, write a short statement and move on. Instead of coming up with a creative “job title” such as Family CEO, create a single sentence or two that says you were raising your kids and the years you did so, then go on to the next job listing. Just be prepared to discuss any gaps during your interview, and do so confidently.
- Emphasize other experience.
Chances are, you weren’t sitting around twiddling your thumbs. Highlight any volunteer or freelance work you did during your time out of the workforce. You likely gained many transferable skills that could make you a stronger candidate. Many people downplay volunteer experience because it is unpaid, but that does make it less valuable.
- Reorganize your layout.
Did you take time off because you went back to school? If it was recent, move your education to the top of your resume so employers can see that you just finished a degree program. And don’t forget to add any work you may have been doing during that time as well.
- Use a hybrid format.
Some people recommend using a functional resume when there are gaps in employment, but this can be a red flag to hiring managers that you are trying to hide something. Instead, use a hybrid approach that still elaborates on your work history in a chronological format but also emphasizes key skills as part of your summary of qualifications.
- Leverage your cover letter.
A cover letter can also be a great place to mention that you took time off for whatever reason but are eager to rejoin the workforce and have been polishing up your skills by doing XYZ. It is your opportunity to mention the gap but draw attention to the skills and abilities you bring to the table. Show employers that you have remained current with industry trends and are ready to jump in and become an integral part of their business.
If you’re stressed about your resume and making a positive impression, call the team at Grammar Chic for professional help. We’ll work with you along each step of the way to make sure your resume presents you in the best light and is geared toward the roles you’re seeking. Contact us today at (803) 831-7444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.