Life happens.  Layoffs happen.  New babies happen.  Relatives become sick, people take time off from work to go to school, and many other things occur which could result in a significant resume gap.

A gap in your work history is a reality many job seekers face. 

So how do you handle employment gaps so they do not impede your chances of winning a great job opportunity?

Unexplained Employment Gaps – are your Gaps really Gaps?

Never leave employment gaps up for the hiring manager’s imagination to explain!  In many cases the gaps are not really “employment” gaps but are due to other reasonable explanations such as:

1.  Working towards a degree or certification

2.  Having and/or caring for children

3.  Taking time off to handle a personal health issue

4.  Dealing with a serious illness in your immediate family

Many people will experience at least one of these instances throughout their work history and by simply explaining why there is a gap in your work history you will mitigate many concerns the hiring manager has.

How to explain your Employment Gaps

Many recruiters will tell you to be prepared to explain your employment gaps during the interview.  I DISAGREE.

In today’s market, only a small percentage of applicants make it to the interview stage.  I recently posted an in-house Data Entry position and received 772 applicants for that one opportunity.  As the hiring manager I had to be smart about which candidates I would speak with and unfortunately, those candidates who had a trend of short job tenured positions and unexplained employment gaps were the first to be culled from the applicant pile.

So how do you win the interview even though you have gaps in your work history?  Be up front about your situation.  Write a cover letter which clearly and succinctly explains your employment gaps.  Additionally, be sure to speak to how you have kept your skills up even though the gaps exist.

By taking just a few extra moments of time at the submission stage you will be more likely to be awarded that coveted interview.

Should you attempt to hide your Employment Gaps in your resume?

I will make this one super simple – no.

Recruiters and Hiring Managers are wise to the many tricks people use with their resumes to hide their employment gaps.  It is always better to be open about your past work history and your current situation.  Some simple things to think about:

1.  Don’t “stretch” the dates of employment of previous positions to cover gaps in your work history.  When a background check and employment verification is performed it will become clear you falsified your resume and this will be a deal breaker.

2.  Don’t eliminate the dates of employment for your previous positions.  Additionally, don’t only use years (and not include months) when listing work dates on your resume.  While this practice can cover several months of unemployment it is clear to the hiring manager you are hiding something.

3.  Don’t get fancy with the formatting of your resume hoping this will hide your gaps.  Not using traditional formatting can make it more difficult for the hiring manager to see your qualifications too!

4.  Don’t worry about explaining gaps that happened 10 years ago.  Employers are more concerned with your recent work history.

I hope you find this article useful and if you have any experiences to share, suggestions or questions please feel free to comment.

Investing in a Lifetime of Success

Angela Roberts


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