I have discussed this week’s topic often with job seekers as it is a common challenge to address when preparing your resume:
How do I overcome gaps in my employment history on my resume?
Given the state of the job market over the last several years, it is quite common for individuals to have short term or even long term gaps on their resume. There are plenty of strategies you can use to minimize these gaps and highlight your experience in a way that overcomes any negative first impressions. Here are four things you should consider if your work history contains gaps:
- Consider using only the years of employment at each position you have held instead of the months and years. This can conceal any short gaps you may have had while searching for a new position and help to keep your work history fluid.
- If you volunteered, freelanced, or held contract positions during a gap in employment, make sure to add this to your resume. While it may not be directly related to the position or industry you are targeting, this type of work hones transferrable skills that most employers value.
- If the gap in your work history is beyond 15-20 years ago, it is advisable to simply leave off any of the positions you held prior to that point. Employers take the “what have you done for me lately?” mentality when considering candidates and are more concerned with your recent, relevant experience.
- Crafting a functional resume that emphasizes your key skills and accomplishments can be an effective way to minimize gaps as well as implement keywords related to the industry or job posting you’re targeting. Functional resume formats list overarching skills with bulleted examples of how you obtained the skills and why you are effective in each category. Usually a section follows with a brief outline of your work history.
If you are mired in an employment gap and not having success with interviews, make the best use of this time as it pertains to your career. Find avenues to volunteer, work as a freelancer, develop a blog related to your industry, take courses related to your field, and most importantly: stay positive! Your attitude shines through in an interview setting and can make or break your chances.
Having a gap in your work history is certainly an obstacle, but one that can be overcome by implementing the strategies outlined above. It may take some trial and error at first to determine the best approach to take, but by staying proactive in your search and honing your resume content, it will pay off in the end!