How to Handle Employment Gaps on Your Resume with a Glass Half-Full Approach

Writing the perfect resume is a piece of cake. Mix decades of experience with a skill set perfectly suited for the job you seek.

As long as you have all of this, and no employment gaps, writing that job-winning resume is a breeze.

If you have six minutes, we can change that.

But you live in the real world, where life isn’t always perfect. Family members get sick. Layoffs happen. Additional training, school, travel, or time off leaves gaps between your employment dates. Recruiters and managers notice these gaps right away, and the caution flag goes up.

That doesn’t mean these employment gaps have to derail your job search. With a skillful, honest, glass half-full approach, you can highlight the best of what you have to offer and win the interview.

Remember the Goal

Your resume has one single goal: to get an interview. To that end, design your resume to highlight the accomplishments, skills, and strengths you believe make you the best candidate for the job.

Hiring managers expect to see certain things on your resume, and leaving them off could give the impression that you’re hiding something. But as long as you provide what they expect to see, you get to control how they see it. Emphasize what makes you great, and minimize the things that don’t flow in your favor.

A Professional Touch

Hiring a professional Certified Resume Writer takes the guesswork out of what to include and how to include it. You could send out hundreds of resumes, guessing and hoping that the format, style, and words you chose will get those interviews.

Or you can tap into years of experience from someone who has written hundreds of interview-winning resumes across dozens of industries. I know how to shine the spotlight on what makes you great. Call me today at (321) 442-7994 to see how the professional touch can get you hired faster than you ever thought possible.

Smart Formatting

Don't run from these gaps or hope employers won't noticeTweaks to the formatting of your resume could make a world of difference in minimizing the impact of employment gaps. Consider using a hybrid format that combines a functional description of your skills and accomplishments with the chronological job history recruiters expect to see.

If your employment gap spans less than two calendar years, consider including only the years of employment in your job history. If you took time away from the workforce from 2008-2009, it may not need to be an issue at all. List only the years (for example, 2004-2008, 2009-2012), and the gap fades into the distance.

Smaller tweaks may also help. Don’t place your dates of employment in bold, and consider a slightly smaller font for the dates. Don’t overdo it, though. If it looks like you’re hiding something, you’ll be eliminated in a heartbeat.

Cover Letter

The best place to explain gaps is usually in your cover letter, not your resume. Employers expect to see your skills and history in an uncluttered format on your resume. It needs to be scannable, attractive, and easy to read. The cover letter gives you a little space to explain the gap, so employers aren’t left to guess or wonder what you’re hiding.

When using your cover letter to explain your situation, be brief and direct. Don’t be apologetic. Instead, remain positive and communicate the reason you were out of the workforce. If you’re returning after taking time off, make it clear that the season of your time off is complete and you are re-entering full-time.

Turn the Tables

Don’t run from these gaps or hope employers won’t notice. Instead, see the glass as half-full. How did your time off contribute to making you a more productive future employee? Did you go back to school, gain valuable volunteer experience, or do consulting work in that time? Even time off for travel or to raise a family could work to your advantage, if you picked up valuable skills along the way.

Call for Backup

Recommendations from bosses, colleagues, and customers could go a long way toward calming fears about gaps in your work history. Seek recommendation letters from people who know what you have to offer, and sprinkle short quotes from those letters in your cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile. Highlight the right things, and the wrong things won’t matter.

Today, choose to look at the gaps in your work history in a whole new light. Shine the spotlight on the skills and strengths that make you great, and win the job you deserve.

Make an investment in your future with a resume / CV and cover letter written by Vivian Adkins, CPRW of Foremost Resumes. Foremost Resumes offers affordable resume writing services – resume prices are published here. If you have any questions about my resume services, call or text 1-321-442-7994.

Resume writing services include:

-Executive Resume Package
-Professional Resume Package
-Entry Level Resume Package for Graduates
-Military Resume Package
(LinkedIn Profile Improvement Add-On Service available for all resume writing packages)

If you found this post helpful, I’d be grateful if you would help spread it by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+.

Thank you!

—Vivian Adkins, Resume Writer at Foremost Resumes

About Author

Vivian Adkins, CPRW
Vivian Adkins, CPRW is the owner of Foremost Résumés and a Certified Résumé Writer. On this blog you can learn about résumés, how LinkedIn can help with your job search, how to conduct an online job search, and more.
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