How To Handle Gaps in a Resume

We have all been in the same position on a job interview. There is always that moment when you hand over your resume to the person in charge and hope they like what they read. Never mind the fact that interviews can be extremely stressful to begin with; what happens if you know your resume is not picture perfect? If may not be your previous jobs, your references, or your education that has you concerned. It may be the fact that there is a large gap in your work history that you believe stands out like a sore thumb. Not to fret, there are some tips and suggestion you may use to uphold the integrity of your resume, even with a few gaps.

First, remember that this should not hinder you in your job search. Things happen in life. Whether it's the loss of a job due to downsizing, the birth of a new baby, an illness, you should still be confident in how you can be an asset to the company you wish to work for. One suggestion while looking for a new position is to stay busy. Staying busy is not referring to sitting on the sofa eating bonbons all day. What it refers to is staying connected to your chosen field. Read trade magazines, offer to write an article for the publication, take a class to expand your skills, etc. Recruiters look favorably on those who show a heartfelt love and devotion to their chosen career.

As mentioned above, a gap in a resume can stick out to a hiring manager. If you have kept "busy" during this time using the suggestions referenced above, be sure to include them on your resume. You can add them in a "Professional Experience" category, or even in an "Interests" category. Another suggestion is to prepare your resume in a functional format rather than a chronological format. This allows the hiring manager and/or recruiter to focus more on your previous job functions, rather than the length of time you performed each function. If you do decide to present a functional resume rather than a chronological one, be forewarned that it could backfire on you too. In some cases, hiring managers look at those who use functional resume writing as having something to hide. Because of this, weigh the pros and cons of a functional resume before jumping into one.

Another feasible way to handle a gap in employment that may be worth considering is via your cover letter. Without over loading the reader with too much information, briefly state why you were unemployed. You will also want to focus more of the fact of how eager you are to return back to work in opposed to how miserable you were when you weren't working. If the subject of your employment gap arises during an interview, use the same suggestions. Keep your response brief yet to the point, and make it clear that you are thrilled with the possibility of getting back to work! It is also a prime time to mention the skills and desires that would make you an asset to the company if hired. If your employment gap happened more than 10 years ago, in most instances it does not even have to be mentioned in the interview or on the resume.

Whatever the length of your employment gap, always have a positive upbeat attitude. This will transcend during your interview, and the hiring manager will have the confidence in you that you are ready to return to the workforce. Have patience as it may not happen with your first job interview, but with a bit of persistence you will be back in the workforce in no time.


Gail Esparan