Employment Gaps on a Resume: Showing your Worth

There can be any number of possible reasons for a person to be unemployed for a period of time. No matter the causes of an employment gap, it is often and unfortunately the first thing an HR clerk, recruiter, or hiring manager will notice on a resume, usually to your detriment. However, unless the time was spent engaged in something totally unproductive, these gaps, if presented properly, can not only be downplayed and their harm minimized, but they may even prove to be helpful in securing a new job.

Employment Gap: To Mention or Not to Mention

Professional resume writers generally suggest not drawing attention to an employment gap if it is relatively short (a matter of months, for example, in which case it can usually be dealt with via formatting). When gaps are longer, it will be imperative to explain them in some way but you should not refer to illness, unemployment (even if it is clearly a result of a long recession), rehabilitation, etc., since these may suggest that you are a high-risk job seeker. Rather, you should give yourself a title that focuses attention on something positive you were doing during that time, like “Student” or “Full-Time Parent” or “Family Management.”

Employment Gap: Dealing with it in Real Life
Unemployment is not something people frequently plan ahead for or desire. In light of the recent economic downturn in the US, many job seekers have been unable to find work for extended periods of time. In these situations, it is important that you stay busy and engage in activities relevant to your field or which provide transferable skills. Even if it is volunteer work or online courses, you will want to mention it on your resume in order to ensure employers that you have been fruitful even when unemployed.

Employment Gap: Dealing with it on the Resume

In the end, it all comes down to how the employment gap is presented on your resume. If it was for a short period of time (a few months), you might only mention the years when stating the duration for each job. For example, you would write 2005-2007 and 2007-2008 rather than May 2005 – January 2007 and November 2007 – August 2008, since the latter clearly reveals a gap. If the gap is longer and cannot be concealed in this fashion, you should do your best to present your activities during this time as relevant to your job objective. A travel agent, for example, might mention vacation destinations and someone looking for work in the health care industry might mention providing primary home care for a terminally ill relative. Include internships, training, family projects, and any other relevant items.

Employment Gap: Keeping Your Head High

An employment gap is not something to be ashamed of, especially when there are legitimate reasons. So be sure to treat your time away from the work force confidently on your resume and when you are unemployed, be sure to use your time wisely and productively to improve your skills, knowledge, and real-life experience.

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