Nothing causes a person to examine their own lives with more scrutiny than building a resume. You start to think about not just how to enter your experiences and skills onto a piece of paper but what others will see when they read it. One of the biggest worries for most job seekers is how to explain gaps in employment. This can be caused by hundreds of different unique issues including the consequences of moving with a spouse, quitting to raise your kids, spending some time out of the workforce after losing a position, or recovering from a medical situation.
First, take a deep breath. It’s easy to get too wound up over-analyzing your resume and worrying about how to write it. While it’s true that your resume is an important part of winning a new position, the rules aren’t as strict as you think. Here are the three best ways to handle a gap in your employment when writing a resume:
1. Don’t Mention It
You do not have to mention every single job, project, and internship. In fact, people should trim their resumes down to only the pertinent items that relate to the position. For example, if you’re applying for a position as a graphics designer, the hiring manager doesn’t need to know about your work as a lifeguard. Most hiring managers are looking for verifiable experiences more than potential hirees having spent the past ten years 100% employed.
2. Minimize Gaps In Formatting
It’s not uncommon to have a few months employment gap between one job and the next but one way to make one or two distinct gaps much less noticeable is to de-emphasize dates in your resume format. Rather than listing days, months, and years, simply list the years. (ie: 2012 – 2016). That way, a few months within the same year will not appear to be as big of a gap. You can also choose not to make dates bold if you don’t want them to be primary reference checking data in your resume.
3. Include Your Big Moments
If you were doing something interesting, that you’re proud of, and that you learned things from, there’s no shame in listing it as if it were a job you were doing. If you quit to raise your children, support your partner in their work, travel the world, or take care of a sick relative, don’t be shy about listing what you were doing. Employers will understand why you took two years off in the prime of your career or are returning to the workforce after a long hiatus. You should go so far as to include details as you would with other jobs like relevant skills you gained, what you learned, and even references to confirm.
4. Have An Explanation Ready
Finally, there are some situations that are better explained in person. If you feel that your circumstances are too personal or difficult to explain for the resume, simply leave the time as a gap in your resume and prepare an explanation for your interview. If it’s important to you, offer the information before the interviewer has a chance to ask. This will show that you are forthright, transparent, and ready to deal with any oddities in your resume as a competitive candidate for the position.
An employment gap in your resume, for whatever reason, doesn’t have to lower your prospects. For more great resume writing tips, contact us today!