While employment gaps on a resume are acceptable, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, “Your resume has [about] six seconds to make an impression before it is sent to the don’t-even-bother pile.” Here are three ways to explain employment gaps on a resume throughout your interview process!
1) Organize Your Resume by Relevance Instead of Chronologically
Employment gaps are most noticeable when resumes are organized as a timeline. In many cases, this organizational structure is not the best way to illustrate your skills and experience. Instead, consider organizing your resume in order of relevance instead of chronological order. This allows you to highlight the skills that pertain most closely to the role you are applying for. As an added benefit, this structure makes it less obvious if there is a gap in your employment history.
2) Speak to Your Growth and Development
In many cases, gaps in employment are due to personal reasons. Whether you were caring for an ill family member, traveling the world, or volunteering, this pause in employment served an important purpose in your life.
Use this opportunity to speak to the ways in which you grew and developed important skills during this time. For example, if you were traveling the world, no doubt you developed problem-solving skills and learned how to adapt to new environments. Tailor your response to the role you are applying for. Prepare to explain how this experience makes you more qualified for the role than you would have been without it. This is a chance to show hiring teams more of your personality and to stand out from a sea of traditional work experience.
3. Share What You Learned Through the Circumstances of the Gap
In some cases, gaps in employment are simply due to a challenging job market in which finding the right next step was difficult. In this case, consider sharing what you learned through this experience. For example, if you were laid off from a position and it took months to find the next role, perhaps interviewing strengthened your people skills. Sometimes preparing to return to work means taking a refresher course on a skillset you’d like to use more often. Sometimes it means taking much-needed rest time after a trying role. These all make you stronger in the long run.
Above all, it’s crucial, to be honest about gaps in employment in your resume. These are no cause for shame, and hiring teams simply need to gather all pertinent details as they evaluate each candidate. Framing these gaps as seasons of learning, growth, rest, or a combination of the three can help to hire teams get to know you more deeply. Taking time outside of the traditional workforce can truly be an asset to your personal and professional development. Tell your story and trust that the right match will support your journey! If you’re struggling to find that perfect match, take time to read through 7 Potential Reasons You’re Not Getting Hired – And What To Do About It!