Overcoming an employment gap in order to get a job
Finding a dream job is not an easy job, more so when there are gaps in employment in your resume. Most employees are apprehensive regarding how to project an employment gap to a prospective employer. However, unforeseen events occur in everybody’s lives and it is a common fact for employees to have gaps on their resumes. It can be due to many reasons like, caring for a sick family member, own health issues, taking a sabbatical for pursuing higher education or being laid off. It is very important never to lie on your resume as employers verify work history and if you put wrong information, it would be found out sooner than later.
As a jobseeker one should always be in a position to explain an employment gap. Some tips to come up with a convincing reason for explaining gaps in resumes are mentioned below –
Use Dates to Cover up the Gap –
When putting dates you do not need to list the month/year if you were in a job for more than a year. For example – you could say 2014 to 2017 instead of writing June 2014 to Oct 2017 for a position. Then if your next job began in Dec 2017, you can list it as Dec 2017 to Present, which makes the three month employment gap less obvious.
Here is how it will look like –
Store Manager, XYZ Store
2017 – Present
Sales Associate, ABC Store 2014 – 2017
As you can see, the resume does not specifically say when the candidate started and ended employment, which can cover a brief employment gap. However you may be asked the dates during an interview so it is best to be prepared to answer that honestly.
Consider a Different Resume Format –
In order to minimize the visibility of gaps in your employment history, you can change the format. For example, you can put the dates in plain font instead of bold. Or, you can use a smaller font than the one you’re using for the company name and your job title.
It is better to start your resume with a summary statement and career highlightssection, so that your skills and accomplishments are highlighted, rather than when you did what.
Omit a job or two –
If you have been in the workforce for a long time, then it is acceptable to exclude one or two experiences. You can limit your experiences to last fifteen years when looking for a managerial or professional position and ten years for other positions.
Include other experience gained during the gap –
You must have pursued other constructive interests when you were not employed. Maybe you took up a professional course? You can include it in the education section of the resume. Did you freelance or did some volunteer work? All these experiences do count and you should mention them in your cv. You can list them just like any other job experience with job title, company name, job description, position and dates of employment.
Use your cover later to briefly explain the employment gap –
When there is an employment gap that somehow you can’t fit in the CV, you can use the cover letter to explain it. Maybe you took time off to care for an elderly sick parent or a young child. However you need not bring it to the notice of the employer.
Explaining an employment gap during an interview can be tricky.
It is best to take an honest and forthright approach. If you took a break to be a full time caregiver to a parent or child then you should clearly state how the situation has resolved and that you are ready to get back to full time employment.
If you were laid off due to workforce downsizing then you should be prepared to give evidence of good recommendations from seniors, colleagues and customers as you try to explain the situation regarding the same. Whenever possible try to get recommendations and you should also consolidate your LinkedIn profile with the same. If the gaps in your resume are a product of a termination, you need to prove to your employer that the reasons why you were fired are no longer an impact on your overall performance.
If you are now targeting a job which requires different skills and competencies and you now possess them you should bring it to the interviewer’s knowledge.
However, in all instances you should be in a position to share concrete proof of success in previous jobs prior to the gap and after you resumed employment. Make a note of specific accomplishments by referring to situations where you intervened and the results were generated.
Whatever you say, refrain from badmouthing your previous employers. Emphasize on why you feel that you would be a correct fit for the new job and show enthusiasm for returning back to work.
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