The issue of employment gaps is a tricky one for most people. Not many are upfront about acknowledging the presence of career breaks in their resume. However, it is important to carefully address the gaps between jobs when you do plan to return to work. A long unexplained gap raises several questions about your employability and you as a person. Whatever your reasons are, be sure your resume includes a clear explanation that is brief and professional. Here’s how you can tackle gaps in your employment history:
Honesty is the best policy
Career breaks happen due to various reasons- health issues, a long vacation or choosing to be a stay-at-home parent. No matter what the reason is, be honest about the gaps in your work history. The moment you fabricate any part of your employment, it may come up during the interview or your background/reference checks and prompt employers to retract an offer. So, if you try to cover a gap by claiming to have worked with a previous company for a period longer than your actual tenure, your plan may backfire. In such a case, it’s best to explain gaps honestly as this could make or break your application.
Reorganize your resume
Worried that career gaps would hurt your chances during job search? Ditch the traditional resume format and redraft it to highlight only your career milestones and accomplishments at work. Create a subhead called ‘Career Highlights’ and include experiences from all your jobs in a year to year format. For example, if you were in a job for over a year, you could just say 2014-2016 instead of saying ‘March 2014-January 2016’. This will shift the focus from exact dates and help cover gaps from your employment history.
Talk about what you did during your time off
Even though you took a break from work, make sure you talk about how you spent your time off. Mention all your volunteering activities and community work. This will show your ability to take initiative and contribute to a good cause. If you held a volunteer position that required you to have professional associations within your industry, it will be seen as your willingness to meet and connect with people from your field. In case you did any consulting work, demonstrate how you used your experience and knowledge. Or if you travelled extensively during the gap, talk about how you acquired organizational skills, learnt time management and improved your communication abilities. The idea is to demonstrate how you enhanced your experience and skill set during the gap.
Use your cover letter to explain the gap
If your employment gap is due to a career switch, make sure the narrative of your cover letter is built around it. State clearly how your journey from one field to another involved full-time studying or joining a training course. This will give you the opportunity to show your effort to learn new skills and stay up-to-date with industry best practices after leaving your previous workplace.
So if there has been a gap between jobs in your resume due to a lay off, family emergency or getting fired, don’t get stressed about it. Instead, use these guidelines to tell employers what you gained from the experience.