Even if very few of us are fortunate enough to have the perfect professional career, there are many people who still think that having any size of gap in employment is employment suicide – and that’s before the challenge of explaining it to a future employer in a resume or during an interview. However, what job seekers tend to forget is that such career gaps don’t necessarily mean immediate rejection for their application. In fact, all that it takes in this situation is to have a professional attitude if you hope to stand the same chance at getting the desired job as those applicants whose career hasn’t been as bumpy as your own.
Honesty Above Everything
Presenting a resume with career gaps can be unsettling in itself but the part that freaks most people out is that it’s almost certain that those gaps will be tackled during job interviews. And even if those blank spots are something you’d rather ignore, omitting them completely from the resume or modifying the start and end dates of your previous jobs to hide any gaps is just as irresponsible and unprofessional as exaggerating about your skills.
In other words, when it comes to discussing these gaps – whether putting together the resume or being asked about it directly by the recruiter – it’s always better tell the truth. Not only will liars easily be spotted during a background check, but employers usually don’t mind finding career gaps in resumes so long as they can be properly explained and the applicant doesn’t try to make them disappear. As a matter of fact, honesty is very much appreciated in the so-called post-truth era, not to mention that being honest is one of the best ways to earn the respect of a future employer.
‘I Can Explain…’
Honesty is for nothing if the reason for a missing period doesn’t properly explain it. Admittedly, there is no need to reveal the reasons behind each and every gap; for instance, personal reasons – like a sudden sickness, raising a child, or the dreaded burnout syndrome – can be elaborated on in just a few words during the interview. However, if the job was left voluntarily or you were unfortunate enough to be laid off, then it’s always better to be prepared to tell recruiters why you felt leaving the workplace was necessary.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that there is no need to wait until the job interview to explain the reasons behind any career gaps, especially if you are more confident in your ability to write. Consider including the explanation within the resume or, if there is no space, in the accompanying cover letter – whose entire purpose is to complement the CV with information that is deemed crucial for the application process.
Making Career Gaps More Acceptable
There are some instances when time-offs can be left out from a resume – especially for those that happened a long time ago in an already long-running career – but in cases where it’s impossible to omit gaps, these two tricks can make them less noticeable:
Using a Different Date Format
A simple and clever way to make employment gaps appear less significant without the need to lie about breaks is to only use the years to mark the duration of any previous employment. This means that instead of including both the months and years for each job, you can simply detail from and until which year the position was worked. It’s worth noting, however, that this method is only good for gaps that lasted for a shorter period of time – usually less than a year – as well as the fact that this format will almost certainly lead to questioning around the exact duration of your previous employment during a job interview.
Filling out Gaps
Regardless of the reason behind a career gap, any kind of activity – whether that be taking classes, travelling, taking care of the kiddos, or discovering a true passion for something – that was done during that time could and should be included within the CV in lieu of extra work. Granted, adding such information to an already limited resume – or to the cover letter – may seem like clutter and again it’s guaranteed that the topic will come up during interviews, but showcasing that any off-work time was spent actively is beneficial for applicants and recruiters alike since it clearly proves that the break was used for personal or professional growth.
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