Explaining a Gap in Your Employment
For some reason, creating a resume makes people nervous. Perhaps it’s the ‘life inventory’ tone of the document, or maybe they feel they have to justify their decisions over time.
Addressing chronological gaps in a resume are among the most gut-wrenching jobs, but here’s my good news — it doesn’t have to be!
Fear of the resume gap came from years gone by, when people usually got a job out of high school or college and worked there for 25 years, then got another job offer, worked there for another 20 years, then retired. They called it ‘job security.’ I call it monotonous.
People work differently nowadays. In an ideal situation, they’ll work at a job for three to five years, then move on. Maybe to another job in the company, maybe to another company.
In reality, the world is fraught with downsizing, medical leaves, parenting, schooling, layoffs, and at least a dozen more everyday reasons why people find themselves out of work. Throw in a good, extended national recession, and all those wonderful plans of uninterrupted income get shot to hell.
It happens to a lot of us, and it’s not as big of a deal as it was in the past. Hiring managers see gaps in resumes more and more every day, and if you’re qualified and present well, those gaps will slide by the wayside.
Keep in mind, not all gaps need to be explained away. If you’ve been looking for a job for the past few months, it is expected and usually implied when there is time between positions. If your employment gaps are more significant, you may do better in addressing them.
When you have some gaps in your background, here are some guidelines in handling them:
On your resume – Remember, your resume is your main document to showcase all the reasons that you’re the best candidate for the job. Including an entry stating that you spent the last eight months looking for a job will not help you, so don’t do it.
The dates of employment comprise a tiny part of your resume layout. The main thrust of your resume should be your skills, experiences, selling points, and what sets you apart from your competition. Explanations for gaps in employment should not be included on the resume.
On your cover letter – This is a great place to effectively account for a significant gap in your employment. Here’s how you do it:
- Do it quickly in the second half of your cover letter. Some examples are:
For four years I raised a beautiful daughter, and now I’m looking to reenter the work force.
I took two years to acquire some valuable skills that I can now offer to you.
After two years of addressing a unique life situation that is now behind me, I am looking for my next opportunity.
- Don’t dwell on it. Say it quickly and constructively and move on.
- Don’t apologize or demean yourself for this gap. Handle the gap with confidence and give a positive outcome.
In your interview – Believe it or not, the gap in your resume probably won’t come up. If you made it this far in the screening process, and you addressed the gap in the cover letter, that may be the last that is heard of it. Success!
All the same, be prepared to talk about the gap in your employment. Keep your conversation consistent with the explanation you gave in the cover letter, give the situation a positive outcome, and be confident in yourself.
Gaps in your employment are no longer the fatal flaw in your career that they once were. Handle your gaps with confidence and grace.
If your career gap is still too much for you to see in a positive light, One Great Resume can help! We work with complicated employment histories and present them in an organized and polished resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and interview answers.
One Great Resume will make your employment history look better than you could have ever dreamed!
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