Few things give rise to more fear and uncertainty in jobseekers than a dreaded “gap” in their employment history. Here’s the truth: recruiters and hiring managers are trained to spot all gaps of 6 months and longer on a candidate’s resume. So, does this mean that the gap on your resume will automatically be perceived as a negative, Absolutely long as you properly ADDRESS it.
Here’s a 5-step process that will allow you to quickly address these gaps:
1) Start by Listing Months and Years Worked For Every Job
Don’t try to cover up a work gap by only listing years worked for the job preceding and job following the gap. For example, a candidate whose last job ran from 6/08-1/10 and whose present job started in 7/10 might be tempted to list these as 2008-2010 and 2010-Present within the resume. Unfortunately, recruiters and hiring managers will instantly pick up on this detail and assume the existence of a gap. Take the time to list months AND years for every job you’ve held.
2) Identify the Exact Length of the Work Gap
It’s a cliche, but it’s true: worrying about a situation is often more taxing than doing something about it. Nowhere is this more true than addressing work gaps on your resume.
-Identify the exact length of time, in months, that you were between jobs. Write it down on paper.
Chances are, it’s less time than you think. And now that it’s down on paper, we’ll execute the following steps to minimize, if not completely eliminate its potential to be a negative:
3) Gather Information About Everything You Did During the Gap
When executing this step, its important not to place judgments on what you did. For the time being, don’t worry about whether the information you’re gathering is relevant to the resume. For example, did you complete a major home renovation, Did you take any courses or classes (either related or unrelated to the industry you’d like to work in), Did you take a sabbatical to recharge your batteries, Create a “Work Gap” file with any supporting documents for the above. The latter can be used to back up your claims during an interview.
4) Create a 2-3 Line “Career Note” that Addresses the Gap
I can hear the complaints now: “What, All that work for a tiny 2-3 line note,” It’s important to remember our purpose: address the work gap AS SUCCINCTLY AS POSSIBLE and prevent it from being a negative.
Review the information in your “Work Gap” file with an eye towards details that are particularly relevant for a resume. In general, organize information along the following levels of importance (from greatest to least):
-Any additional training or courses
-Any home or special projects
-Taking care of family obligations, etc.
Using the above as a guideline, what information works best for your work gap, Develop a brief Career Note that addresses it. Examples include:
“Garnered hands-on training in team leadership/supervision and worked to expand professional network of colleagues and industry professionals.”
“Planned and executed home projects within 3.5 month timeframe, managing resources and addressing issues.”
“Strengthened family relationships and prioritized shared experiences such as 3-month biking journey in Spain.”
5) Insert the “Career Note” Directly Within the Resume
It’s important to insert the “Career Note” between the job preceding and the job following the gap. This approach delivers a clear message: I’m proud of my entire career and have nothing to hide. There’s no better way to make a first impression.