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Handling Career Gaps on Your Resume

Posted on June 11, 2014 at 10:57 AM
Tags: resumes, job search

Most job seekers realize that gaps in their employment history are viewed negatively by employers. That’s one reason why some people fail to apply for jobs which they are qualified for. But you can overcome obstacles posed by career gaps by explaining what you were doing during the times you weren’t employed. 

In How to Handle Career Gaps on Your Resume , Don Goodman says there are many legitimate reasons for employment gaps and assuming you didn’t spend your time doing things like eating bon-bons and watching Oprah, you should not be afraid to state what they were. And he also says that gaps in your employment history must be addressed in the resume. Mentioning them in a cover letter isn’t enough.

Goodman says there are generally four reasons to have a gap in your resume and provides advice for handling each one. Here’s the list with his tips: 

Raising a Family. This is an entirely legitimate reason to have a gap, so don’t try to hide it or embellish it by using silly titles like household or domestic engineer. Say you invested in providing a stable environment for your family and its size. Show that your organizational and other skills are fresh, by listing the volunteer jobs you did with the school and community.

If you work in a technical field like IT or engineering, you might need to showcase refresher courses or recent certifications you might have gained.

Unemployed. The need to enter information here is dependent on how long you have been unemployed. If you haven’t worked in a year or more, having an unexplained gap on the resume connotes that people chose not to hire you, and that isn’t the impression you want to make.

If you took some temporary jobs, list them under the heading Temporary Positions and indicate that you selected to take some temporary roles while searching for your next good job.

Include volunteer roles as well. If you did part-time consulting, then include that and list some projects and results you achieved.

Dealing with Family Matters.  Sometimes you have to take time off to deal with ailing relatives and financial matters. Or perhaps you were ill and don’t want to go into the details. Just list Sabbatical and state, “Dealt with urgent family matters now fully resolved.”

When asked in an interview, just say something like, “I always give 110 percent to my job and I knew I could not do that at this time, so I decided to take the time off. However, everything is resolved now and I am ready to hit the ground running.”

Furthering Education.  No one can fault someone for furthering their knowledge and value, so treat this like another job and put a notation that you were pursuing a degree or other certification with your field of study.

If you need further help with resume writing (or other job-search techniques), check out our free workshops or opportunities for one-on-one assistance at your local Minnesota WorkForce Center .

Once you’ve updated your resume to account for career gaps, log into MinnesotaWorks.net and replace your old resume with the newly-edited version. If you don’t have an account on our job board, we urge you to open an account and post your resume now. If you need help using MinnesotaWorks.net , click here to access our online tutorial. 

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