Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gaps In Your Resume - Here’s 7 Ways to Explain Them

Employ00 08Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes it is unavoidable.  We take time off from working because we’re sick, undergoing some family emergency, taking time to raise our kids - there are many reasons that we may not work.  That time when you are not working, results in resume gaps. 

Unfortunately, employers are suspicious of resume gaps and they want an explanation for them.  And if you want the job, you had better be prepared to explain them.  But explain them the wrong way and you won’t get the job.

Here are 7 ways that you can explain gaps in your resume:
  1. Tell the truth!  Always be honest.  If you try to cover it up, employers will assume that you are doing something unethical.  The more you make it seem like you have something to hide, the more they will believe that.  Resume gaps are only unusual if you display it as something odd.
  2. If it was by choice, tell them.  Resume gaps can have a positive spin if employers know that you made a choice to take time from work.  Perhaps you took time to travel in your youth or you may have had many job options and had to take time to consider them all carefully.  When it is a good choice, do not be afraid to let them know that you did it by your own will.
  3. Draw attention to the times.  If you experienced a resume gap when many people were unemployed and the country’s economy was at a downturn, draw attention to that.  That, at least, is based on fact and they can’t deny that there was xx% of the country suffering from layoffs and unemployment when you have statistical information.  The truth is, they may have experienced the same thing or know someone that has so they may be able to empathize.
  4. Use it to your advantage.  If you used the time period when you were not working to do things like improve your skills, learning new things, or taking part in activities that make you a more valuable part of the company team, and then draw attention to that resume gap.  Take the opportunity to tell them how you volunteered in a third world country and had the chance to lead a team.  These non-work related skills can have a lot of value - especially to a company that values community or global efforts.
  5. Don’t make a big deal of it.  Simple create a list of activities that were part of your life when you had this time off from work.  This is especially effective if you were in school or involved in a volunteer organization.
  6. Use a functional resume.  A functional resume will de-emphasize employment gaps because it focuses on skills that you have obtained and your achievements.
  7. Just avoid gaps in employment whenever possible.  Strategic and careful job searching can help you avoid gaps in your resume.  Be aware of trends in the job search area and always be improving on your skills, whether it is by taking course or reading blogs and information online.

If you are having trouble with your resume and were a student at Robertson College, you can visit or job search department for help. 

If you’re not a student of Robertson College, why not?  We have classes available in Winnipeg, Calgary, and Brandon, and if you’re not in those cities you can conveniently take many of our classes online!

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