A Guide to Addressing Employment Gaps on Your Resume
In an ideal world, we’d all have perfect resumes filled with relevant experience and many years of continuous (and impressive) experience. As it happens, many of us do have gaps in our resumes; perhaps we took time off work to go back to school, raise a family or care for a sick relative, or maybe we were laid off due to circumstances beyond our control.
However, resume gaps aren’t the end of the world. With a little ingenuity and the ability to reframe your professional experience, you too can communicate to potential employers your value as an employee. Here’s how:
Don’t Freak Out
In the aftermath of the recession, many of us are worried--perhaps excessively so--about how our resumes appear to prospective employers. Rather than spending time and energy thinking about what’s wrong with your resume, bolster your confidence by focusing on your applicable experience and what you can offer employers. Approaching your job hunt with a positive mindset will come through in your business-related communications.
Highlight Volunteer Experience
True, you may not have spent the last year (or two) in a formal project-management role, but maybe you’ve completed related duties in a volunteer setting. Have you led a committee for a club or organization you belong to? Have you donated your time and services to your child’s school? Volunteer experience is valuable not only in that it allows you to contribute to your community, but in that it shows your ongoing dedication to your vocation. In his piece for The Ladders, Marc Cenedella writes that job seekers should include volunteer experience on their resumes because this experience “entail[s] the same skill sets you used in business.”
Focus on Your Skills, Not Your Time Away
Employment gaps are less apparent if you put more emphasis on other parts of your resume, including your knowledge, skills and qualifications. Kim Isaacs, a Monster.com resume expert, suggests starting with an Objective Statement to “summarize your goal as well as your top qualifications. This will draw attention to your selling points and downplay your work chronology.”
Your resume isn’t all potential employers consider when assessing your employability. The cover letter is a powerful tool for communicating your skills, career goals and attitude. According to write.com, crafting a positive cover letter can work to your advantage. Instead of focusing on what you haven’t done, write.com advises that you “talk about what you have done in your life to stay ready to work, and how your experiences have prepared you for the position to which you are applying.”
By following these tips, you’ll not only gain a new perspective on your job hunt: you’ll increase your marketability as well!