There are numerous reasons as to why an individual might have a “hole” on his or her resume, whether it be for a month or 3 years. Many have fallen victim to a lay off, downsizing or termination, some may have been forced to take time off for health related reasons and a few could have left a position for one that did not pan out as they had hoped for. A common reason for an employment gap, due to the economy, according to Forbes ( www.forbes.com ) includes “many people who have been caring for young children or other relatives..” during the past few years and are now just returning to the workforce.
Regardless of what the reason might be, often candidates have difficulty explaining why that employment gap is on their resume, or are concerned with how it might look to future employers. It is frightening to some. Many work so hard to make strategic moves in their career that will pay off in the future, or choose positions thinking they might be “resume boosters”, only to have a lapse of employment, by no choice of their own.
Here are a few ways that a candidate can explain that “hole” on their resume, and also some examples to “fill” that hole with related experience, even if not employed.
One example you may consider utilizing to explain that time out of the workforce is simply stating the reason in your cover letter, ensuring that the hiring manager or future employer will know why you have been unemployed. However, please note that this is a great method to use, should your reason be fairly straight forward and not have a need for detailed explanation. An example could be explaining that you had been out of the workforce for the past 2 years as you were caring for an elderly parent, this is surely something that the hiring manager will understand.
Another example you may consider utilizing, should your reasoning be more complex, would be listing the years associated with the positions, as opposed to month/year.
ABC Company 2011-2013
XYZ Company 2008-2011
As opposed to:
ABC Company Dec 2011 – Mar 2013
XYZ Company Feb 2008 – Jan 2011
This listing method will allow you to explain the reason for the gap in detail to the potential employer.
Something that many individuals often do not think about is various ways that they can stay “active” during that employment gap, allowing candidates to explain various work related activities that they completed during their time spent unemployed. This is a great way to turn an often negative situation into a more positive one!
Consider attending a networking event with professionals from your geographic area and industry. This will allow you to still keep in contact with professionals in your field, and may even lead to a potential job!
You may also think about taking online webinars or seminars, should you have an advanced license or certification. It is extremely important to not let these lapse or expire during your time out of the workforce. Remember how hard you worked to obtain these distinctions, you do not want to set yourself back or have to retest in the future! Continuing to keep your credentials up to date allows you to explain during an interview that though you have not been employed, you have still been staying current with your profession.
Hopefully these few tips will help during your next job interview!