Gaps in your employment history raise questions in the mind of potential employers. When they see a gap in your employment history, they are naturally going to be curious about why you weren’t working or whether your skills have gotten rusty. When you are putting together a resume, consider the following things while you are trying to address gaps in your professional life:
Explain the Reason for Your Gaps
While you don’t want to get too personal on your resume, if there was a reason for the gap you want to list it in your employment history. For example, if you went to school, put it in your resume. A four year gap in jobs is not going to look good if not addressed, but if you list that you went back to school to earn your degree, a hiring manager may be impressed that you decided to be proactive and gain new skills. If you stayed home to care for a sick relative, putting this on your resume with a brief explanation for why it won’t impact future availabilities will address the hiring manager’s primary questions.
Count Volunteer and Part-Time Work in Your Resume
Some job seekers think that only full-time jobs are going to impress a hiring manager. The truth is, gaining experience and new skills is what a hiring manager is looking for, and volunteer and part-time work are great ways to do that. If, during your gap, you volunteered at a non-profit, make sure you list it on your resume. It’s important to list not only where you volunteered, but also the skills you gained. You gain valuable skills and experience while working temporary or part-time jobs. Be sure to include this on your resume if you are currently in a work gap. While you continue to search for full-time jobs, also use temporary employment agencies to take on work assignments that will help you grow, and that you can list on your resume.
Addressing Current Employment Gaps
If you are currently between positions, there are steps you can take now to reduce the impact on your resume. Look for opportunities to gain new skills by taking a class or obtaining a certification. If you haven’t been open to the idea of temporary work, reconsider. Not only will it help to bridge an employment gap on your resume, often companies hire people that originally started out in a temporary position. If an employment gap is extending longer than expected, it may be time to revisit your salary expectations or the level of positions you consider. Nobody wants to take a backward step, but a job, any job, gives you a better foundation from which to move forward.
Craft Your Resume to Alleviate Employer Concerns
Before you craft your resume, make sure that you take stock of what skills you gained during your work gap. Employers may be afraid that you lost skills, or simply didn’t gain any, during your time off. The fact is, if you don’t craft a resume that explains your gaps and shows what you gained from your experience, a hiring manager may just assume the worst. If you were at home raising kids, you may have become an expert at time management and keeping on schedule. If you were caring for a loved-one, you may have gained medical knowledge or gotten certifications that can help you gain a career. Even if you were just taking in odd jobs to make money, those jobs helped you gain skills in a wide variety of areas. When crafting your resume, don’t look at a work gap as a bad thing; look at it as a time where you gained skills that will make you attractive to an employer. It’s vital that you show this in your resume.