Handling Gaps in Your Resume During a Job SearchDec 18th, 2009 | By Bill | Category: Interviewing, Resumes
To effectively manage career and employment gaps in your resume, you need to be honest, but in most cases you don’t have to go into great detail. Depending on the reason for the gap, you may not need to go into details at all. For example, if you were not employed for a few months between jobs, then on a resume that lists the years of employment rather than exact months, it may not appear as a gap in employment at all. In fact, some people choose to leave out irrelevant part-time job experience or short-term assignments on purpose.
In the case of managerial positions, a resume should cover no more than the past 15 years of experience while lower level jobs may only need to go up to the past ten years. So, if you worked for a few months in-between jobs (less than a year), you can use the year of employment format, instead of the exact month. For example, using 2004 to 2008 is better than reporting exact months which might make recruiters calculate gaps that they wouldn’t otherwise.
If you are changing careers, this might be easily explained, especially if you went back to school for more education. Most employers do understand that it can take longer to find a job in a new career. When you have been laid off, due to economic slowdowns or cut-backs, employers will understand it. Keep in mind that a potential employer will check work history, so don’t lie about layoffs, especially, if they are due to economic cut-backs.
If you have taken time off to care for an elderly parent or a child with a serious illness, it is sometimes best to say so. Also, keep in mind that many people will take a few months away from their career at some point in their life; so using the yearly format can make the point less obvious, yet allow you to be truthful.
Doing freelance work, volunteer work or self-employment is understandable to most potential employers as well. Just be prepared to give some kind of reference or proof if you bring this up. Also, these are items that can be mentioned in an executive summary format on your resume. Be sure to only include them in a work history resume, if they are pertinent to the career you are pursuing.
Keep in mind that while some things can be explained in a cover letter, a resume should highlight exact accomplishments, education and work experience, but not in a traditional historical content. While most job applications still use this format, sometimes a good resume itself can help you obtain your desired position. Remember, your resume is the most important part of selling yourself to a potential employer.
Avoiding giving negative reasons; instead, highlight any accomplishments and recommendations that you have earned. This will give you an advantage over other applicants, rather than drawing attention to employment gaps, especially short ones. Using an executive summary of your skills is helpful, too.
A. Harrison Barnes is the founder and CEO of CareerMission, the parent company of more than 90 job-search websites, employment services, recruiting firms and student loan companies. CareerMission (originally Juriscape) employs several hundred employees in 14 offices throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe. These companies were literally started from Harrison’s garage several years ago after Harrison quit his job.
Harrison resides in Malibu, California. He is a sought-after career advice guru and writes articles relating to the legal community. Harrison is an active philanthropist and advocate for people reaching their full potential in their careers. Given his passion for job seekers and them reaching their full ability, Harrison recently started offering a limited number of coaching engagements to job seekers.
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