The old thinking about gaps in your employment—that they are an insurmountable barrier to being hired again—has long ago bit the dust. While it is still best to hunt for a job while you are employed, the word “employed” has itself changed.
These days hiring managers and recruiters look more favorably on consultants or entrepreneurs who start their own business during “employment” gaps. They respect consultants, entrepreneurs, part-time workers and even volunteers who take on tasks that involve leadership opportunities, new learning, new professional connections or a sharpening of skills. Finally, they are more tolerant of time off to finish a degree.
It is much better to be honest about those reasons for a gap in employment rather than trying to hide them. In fact, in some industries, short work periods are the norm rather than the exception (for example, fashion and engineering may fall into that category). If you are in one of those industries, you may have several gaps between jobs; it is better to acknowledge them than to stretch out dates to cover them. Hiring managers and recruiters may be suspicious by not finding the gaps they expect and lies are easy to expose, especially in our Internet and social media connected society.
Telling the truth from the onset will help you to move forward in your career search, and ensure you do not have an issue in the future based on lies. I have spoken, known, known of, and worked with folks who had their careers seriously harmed when lies they told years ago were eventually discovered by their employers.
I have spoken to hiring managers who believe that long gaps mean something is wrong with you (such as a time in prison), and if you do not explain what you did for that gap, they will pass on you. Consider explaining the gaps up front in your resume, before they pass on you. You can put what you did as a “job title” or as a sabbatical. Show what you did, including taking care of an ill family member or recuperating from illness or raising a child. If possible, show that you acquired or used transferable skills during that time. If you volunteered for activities, you may also want to describe that experience.
You can also discuss a large gap in a cover letter, but not all hiring managers read cover letters. Waiting for the interview is another but less desirable strategy.
You want to show that you are comfortable with your decision and to reassure the potential employer that circumstances have changed. I have helped many folks realize that the gap is really not a bad thing for their career. Through my coaching, many clients discover that what they thought was a “gap” or an “issue” really is not. Instead, the skills or knowledge they acquired during the gap, combined with their work experience, makes them even more desirable for the right employer.
Robin’s Resumes® can help you decide how to handle your resume gap, reduce your worry, and help create a standout resume. Contact us today.