Handling Gaps in Your Resume

In the world of job seeking and resume writing, gaps in your employment history can make recruiters question you several times and think many times over before offering you a job. Everyone is aware of this and employment gaps are big stress factors for job seekers today.

Despite the fact the economy is recovering, job hunting is still a full-time job for many people. Job seekers quickly realize that they are at their most vulnerable point in life, and anything in the resume that sticks out will only cause more fear and stress for them. This stress can make them think illogically and differently from their usual pattern.

In many cases, it is the resulting panic of an applicant seeing a job gap that causes the most problems. There will always be certain uncalled and unplanned events in a person’s life. These events, like sick or dying relatives/family members, maternity/arrival of a baby, and layoffs, can bring about a big gap in your resume. Such gaps can surface no matter how hard you work, how responsible you are, or how diligently you plan your life. The key to overcoming such gaps is to not let it hurt you when you are searching for a job.

Remember that being out of work for a period of time does not mean you cannot keep yourself busy. Keeping busy means more than just staying at home and watching TV or playing sports. It means staying involved with your profession. This can help cover up the job gap and helps you re-enter the field where you work. It also keeps your knowledge updated and skills sharp.

Here are some tips to help you active in your profession and busy without a job:

  1. Take classes on subjects related to your profession.
  2. Volunteer in a related organization or mentor others.
  3. Attend semi

    nars and read trade journals and other publications in your field.

  4. Write literature about your subjects within your field of work. You can write for papers or magazine publications or even post them on blogs.
  5. Look for consulting projects/assignments to supplement your knowledge. You could end up gaining full-time positions as a result of a project.

If you have been working as a freelancer during the job gap, make sure you add the necessary details in your resume. Write down the assignment or project dates, functions, client names, and other relevant information. In short, treat your freelance work as you would treat a regular job.

If you have a large job gap to deal with, you could try experimenting with a functional resume or a chrono-functional one instead of a traditional chronological resume. Remember, however, that some employers and recruiters red-flag such resumes because they suggest that the applicant is trying to hide something. Chronological resumes are universally preferred because recruiters can easily read them and get the necessary information about an applicant.

Above all, remember to keep your network of contacts active before you need them as they can be very helpful in your search for a new position. Gaps happen. Prepare for them now.

About the author: Maggie Larson is a master’s level career counselor and an internationally certified as a Career Management Practitioner (CMP) by the Institute for Career Certification International. She was also recognized as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) through the National Board for Certified Counselors. You can check out her site at ResumeIndex.com

Photo credit: iStockphoto


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