Searching for a new job can be challenging. Filling out applications, submitting resumes and attending interviews can be a job in itself. Having gaps in your resume may make this process more difficult. Knowing how to address an employment gap on your resume will assist you in finding the job you want.
People take time off work for many reasons, including caring for children, business shutdowns or leaving a toxic work environment. Employment gaps can reflect poorly on the applicant if not explained well. No matter the reason for your break in employment, it is important that you be prepared to address it and put your potential employer at ease.
These eight tips can assist you in minimizing the effect of gaps on your resume:
Make Good Use of Your Time Away Make the most of your time by getting certifications, performing volunteer work related to your field or participating in courses and programs. Attending webinars and job-related conferences can be noted on your resume.
It shows how you used your time away for career or personal development.
- Omit the Gap
If you were employed for a few years in your last position and the gap was before that, consider omitting jobs from before that time from your resume altogether. If the gap was five years ago, only list the positions within the last five years. Potential employers don’t expect you to include every single job you have ever worked, especially if you have been a professional in the field for many years.
If you have small gaps in your resume or periods in which you were out of work for a few months within a single calendar year, you can only omit the dates and include the year. If you were unemployed for six months in 2019, for example, list your dates of employment like this:
ACME Widget Company, 2015-2019
Sam’s Glue Factory, 2019-present
Using this format doesn’t show that you were out of work between March 2019 and September 2019.
- Use a Different Resume Layout
Many resumes are structured chronologically, creating issues if you have gaps in your employment. Choose a resume template that focuses on your skills and accomplishments instead of your actual dates of work. Other resume formats allow you to list your educational achievements first, saving your work history for last. Focus on your accomplishments at your previous job, your certifications and everything else that makes you stand out as a candidate.
- Explain the Gap
Explaining the gap is effective, and hiring managers understand that life happens, and career-changing is normal. There might not always be another job lined up, and there is a gap when this happens. There are several ways you can explain a gap:
– Contract position: this lets the interviewer know that the position was temporary, and this will easily explain a gap between assignments
– Professional development: add in your professional development activities where you would typically add in your position information. Not only does this explain your gap, but it also makes your resume appear more substantial and highlights your professional skills.
- Strengthen Your Resume and Cover Letters Using Addendums
Include other forms of evidence that demonstrate your skills if you have gaps on your resume, including a portfolio of your work, writing samples, reference letters or certificates from completed certifications.
A well-put-together resume and portfolio, along with positive references from previous employers and colleagues, will go a long way in helping the interviewer forget any doubts about your employment gap.
- Explain Your Employment Gap in Your Cover Letter
Address the issue of an employment gap in the cover letter so that the hiring manager is aware of it before the interview. Give a quick explanation of your gap, but don’t dwell on it. Mention it, move on and get back to talking about your achievements.
- Explain the Gap During Your Interview
You may be asked to discuss the gap again during the interview. Determine what you will say beforehand – omit any negative thoughts about the gap, and don’t comment negatively on your former employer.
If you became unemployed due to COVID, focus heavily on your strong performance before the job loss. Most employers will be sensitive to this and often forgive the gap due to a Covid-19 job loss. Be sure to explain this to your potential employer. If you were required to take time off to care for children or an elderly relative, make it clear that you are ready and eager to return to work.
- Be the Ideal Candidate
The key to achieving this is to apply for positions you are a perfect fit for. If you have extensive experience in your field, certifications, references and are a good fit for the company’s culture, your potential employer may not even care about your gap. They will likely be so excited to hire you that they will overlook the period that you were unemployed.
If you haven’t connected with an Employment Consultant at Job Skills, NOW is the time to get that one-on-one support you can use as you move through the new way of working. Call Job Skills toll-free at 1-866-592-6278 to connect to one of JS’s experts.
Job Skills has more than 40 online workshops to assist you in your career exploration and job search situation. Register to participate in the online ‘LinkedIn for Job Searching’ workshop on March 9, 10:00 am – 11:00 am. Watch for the other dates and times to register for any of our online workshops, as well as lots of great links and resources to assist you!