How to Properly Address Gaps on Your Resume

You’ve spent time perfecting your resume, secured excellent references that can speak volumes of nice words about you, and have stellar experience that makes you the best candidate.  It seems like the only thing standing between you and your dream job is the employment gap on your resume.

Today unemployed Americans job-hunt for an average of 34 weeks, so resume gaps are becoming much more common.  Whether the time off is from spending time with a sick family member, traveling, unemployment, or going back to school, many employers may question what happened in between jobs.  However, a gap on your resume isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Here are a few tips to properly address resume gaps, without scaring off the employer.

Explain gaps in your cover letter.

There’s no reason to not be honest about your resume gap.  Your cover letter is a logical place to provide an explanation for any time between positions on your resume, as well as a way to position this information in the context of the full story of your fit and interest in a role.  Have you been searching for a job after a lay off?  Did you take time off to be with children or elderly parents?  Were you backpacking across Europe?  Just because you were laid off from a company or were fortunate enough to spend time traveling, isn’t a surefire reason to not hire you.  However, being dishonest about it is.

Unemployment happens. Explaining the situation honestly lets the employer know that you have integrity and confidence.  These are two traits that any employer values in a job candidate.  Hiring managers understand that finding employment in today’s economy isn’t an easy task.

Share your growth experiences.

You may have taken time off to take courses or freelance, both of which can make you a better candidate for the job.  If you took courses add those in the educational history section of your resume.  Then, if asked during an interview, you can explain how what you learned in those classes will bring value to this new position.  If you did freelance work, include those projects in your work history and explain what you accomplished during that time.  If you helped a spouse or family member with business tasks or ran events at your child’s school, talk about these opportunities. For time spent traveling, discuss culture and customs you experienced.  These are all experiences that encouraged personal learning and growth.  Make the employer see how your growth during unemployment can bring value in the new job.

Mention the new skills you gained.

Transferable skills are skills that you can take with you from one situation to another, from one job to the next.  Transferable skills are often gained through life experiences—not just on the job.  Think about the skills you developed through your course work, freelance, and volunteer opportunities.  If you took up multiple freelance projects, you learned project management skills.  If you volunteered with a non-profit, you may have developed fund-raising, administration, and event planning skills.  These are valuable skills that can easily transfer to paid opportunities.

Hype your past career experience.

If you haven’t filled your time off with relevant volunteer or freelance experience, you’re not out of luck.  Just because you haven’t used a certain skill in a few months or years, doesn’t mean that the skill has vanished.  Highlight skills and accomplishments in your past jobs that are still relevant in the current marketplace.  For example if you used quantitative customer service skills or managed multistep projects using a project management tool, these skills will still be relevant.  Discussing how your past experience is still relevant shows the employer that you’re on top of your game and ready to get back in the workforce.

Your resume gap isn’t a big deal, but how you explain it is important to potential employers.  If that gap is widening by the day, let the experienced recruiters at BOS Staffing help.  We’ve helped job seekers in Gainesville Georgia and nationwide find top opportunities that really suit them. Contact us today to start working with the staffing firm that’s helped hundreds of candidates just like you.


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