There are many reasons why your career history may have gaps; but that doesn’t mean your resume has to look like Swiss cheese.There are a variety of ways you can fill in the holes, so to speak, in order to make yourself more attractive to potential employers. These methods don’t include lying, of course. That is a sure fire way to put your career and your personal brand in jeopardy!
Whether you took a break from employment to sail the world, have a baby, or care for an elderly parent, you can use several proven methods to disguise the hiatus during these time periods. Even if your lack of work is the result of the recent economic downturn, there are numerous ways to ‘mind the gap’.
- The top third of your resume is prime real estate; use it wisely. Present yourself in a manner that will immediately impress hiring managers and recruiters. Be sure to include a headline with branding statement, a summary, and a core competency section. This will become the first thing the reader sees when they view your resume. Your well-positioned content will allow you to capitalize on your strengths and unique selling proposition (USP) – hook them before they even get to the dates of employment!
- Along the same line, using a career highlights section following the core competency area will allow you to showcase your most impressive accomplishments. Once a hiring manager reads about the great achievements you have had, those pesky dates won’t be nearly as significant.
- Do not put the month and year of your professional experience on your resume. Instead, use the year to year format. Depending upon your true dates of employment, you may be able to conceal certain gaps. The goal is to get the interview, not give away the entire store.
For example, if you worked from March 2006 – December 2007 and didn’t work again until November of 2008, you can conceal a gap by listing Job A from 2006-2007 and Job B from 2008-2010. Of course, if asked to give specifics when completing an application, you will need to list exact dates of employment; by then you will have made enough of a positive impression that it won’t matter.
- If you have a large and recent gap, you may want to consider volunteering for a relevant business association so that you can use this as your current role. For example, if you become the fundraiser or the treasurer for your local chapter of Women in Technology International (WITI), you can list this as the role that has most recently been occupying your time under professional experience and highlight your relevant achievements to show your initiative and capabilities.
- In some cases, it may make sense to list the gap as a sabbatical and provide a brief explanation. It depends on the length of the gap and the circumstances surrounding your lack of employment during that time period.
Consider hiring a resume writer to help you position yourself. Give yourself the advantage and seek help when you need it. Don’t make a rookie mistake that can cost you time and MONEY.
Your cover letter can also serve as an opportunity to briefly explain gaps. The key word there is BRIEFLY. Move on to sell yourself and the positive impact you can make in a new environment. Make your resume as appetizing as possible; with stellar content and a polished aesthetic appeal, you can minimize the gaps and maximize the interviews!