Whether it was to raise young children, go back to school or the result of getting fired, many people have gaps in their employment history. Fortunately, employment gaps aren’t the death knell they used to be. The Great Recession made sure of that. If you’re currently seeking a job with a sizeable gap in your employment history, you simply have to develop a strategy for addressing it.
On Your Resume
When writing your resume, there are a few tweaks that you can use to de-emphasize gaps in your employment history.
If you had a short gap or two spanning just a few months, you can omit these by leaving out the months on your dates of employment. Obviously, this only works if your had multiple jobs that lasted more than a couple years.
If you’ve had a long gap, structure the “Experience” section of your resume so that it features things you did during your unemployment that could be seen as valuable experience or skills-building activities. For instance, you could list volunteer activities, personal projects completed or seminars attended. Even taking care of an aging loved one could be considered valuable experience, particularly if you had to help with financial matters and navigate the healthcare system.
In the Interview
If you are able to land an interview by effectively addressing employment gaps on paper, that doesn’t mean your worries are over. You still need to be ready to talk about it in the interview.
First of all, you should be prepared to be honest. Maintaining your integrity is more important than any gap in employment. Furthermore, if you lie in the interview and get caught after you land the job, it might be grounds for termination.
Also, you must be ready with a prepared, honest answer. Fumbling your way through a response won’t do yourself any favors. In addition to being prepared to talk about your previous jobs, you should also be ready to discuss just what you were up to when you weren’t holding down a job.
Employers understand the “life happens,” but they also expect you to be a professional when it comes to preparation. If you’ve formally addressed your employment gaps in your resume, simply reiterate what you wrote and expand on those points by connecting them to the job you are interviewing for. For example, if you spent time doing freelance work over the internet, you could talk about how you contacted potential clients, met deadlines and handled financial transactions – which means you exercised communications, project management and negotiation skills.
Finally, you should project confidence when explaining your gaps in employment history. Realize that good companies want confident and capable employees more than they want hesitant people with spotless employment histories. If a company can’t get past a few blemishes on your resume, maybe it’s not a good fit to begin with.
At Action Group, we have years of experience supporting professionals with gaps in their employment history. If you’re looking for your next professional opportunity, but you are concerned about being out of work for a period, please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.