In today’s job market, we want to present the best version of ourselves, skills and experience to hiring managers. But then there’s life, and the sometimes-inconsistent nature of our work. Time off to raise children, care for a loved-one, or travel in addition to unemployment can lead to unwanted gaps on your resume. Regardless of your situation, don’t allow fear to stifle your confidence. Hiring managers understand that life happens and breaks are needed, but they also expect you to be prepared and develop a strategy to market yourself.
How can I address gaps on my resume?
- Consider any work, projects or experiences accomplished during your time out of the workforce. This can include volunteer work, a sabbatical, or consulting projects. Ran a local fundraiser? Add it. Traveled the world and blogged about it? Add it. Each of these experiences will have broadened your skill set and should be listed on your resume.
- Your summary statement is an ideal space to highlight your experience, draw the connection to any projects or accomplishments during your time off, and define your career objectives.
- If there are several 3–6 month gaps in your resume, try listing years of employment and eliminate months.
- Maybe you’ve been laid off because of downsizing or other matters. There is no need to explain the details in your resume. The topic may come up in an interview, which would be an appropriate venue to address the circumstances at your previous job.
What else can I do to strengthen my potion in the job market?
- Stay up to date on industry trends — Demonstrating in a cover letter or interview your continued interested and engagement in your industry while taking time off will impress hiring managers and communicate your commitment to your field.
- Network — The Adler Group recently reported 85% of critical jobs are filled via networking. This may be challenging for those caring for children and loved ones, however dedicating 2 evenings or afternoons per month to networking in-person, on the phone, through email or LinkedIn will pay dividends. Use the backdoor to your advantage.
- Have confidence and a plan — There is no reason to apologize for your time off, however hiring managers will want to know what you did during your time off. Be prepared to explain, with confidence, the skills gleaned through managing a household, running a fundraising drive, or traveling the world.
Stay honest. There is no reason to elaborate the truth or lie when reentering the workforce. Lack of integrity will set you back and perhaps lead to you remain on the job market far longer than you’d want (even if you get the job, often you will be terminated when the lie eventually surfaces). Tell the truth, have a plan, and maintain tenacity throughout the process.
CALL TO ACTION
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