Handle Employment Gaps
Being unemployed is a difficult and stressful situation. To
make matters even worse, the fact that you may not currently
have a job can prevent you from finding a job. It is unfair,
but true. Having gaps in your employment history are often
an immediate turn off for recruiters and interviewers;
however, with a little bit of creativity, you can make those
This month's newsletter explains the 4 steps to handling
gaps in your employment history. Don't let being out of work
keep you out of work.
These following four methods will be covered:
1. Find Real Gaps
2. Fill In Gaps
3. Dodge Resume Gaps
4. Mention Major Gaps
4 TIPS TO HANDLE EMPLOYMENT GAPS!
1) FIND REAL GAPS
The first mistake many people make is to assume the worst
when it comes to being out of work. Not having a job does
not mean you have an employment gap. There are many
legitimate reasons for not working. These reasons can be
addressed directly without any worry.
The most common explanations of unemployment that should NOT
be considered employment gaps are:
Having/taking care of children
Personal health problems
Serious Illness in the Family
Being between jobs for a short period of time (less than 6
2) FILL IN GAPS
If your bout with unemployment does not fall into one of the
categories listed above, you most likely have an official
gap in your employment history. Even at this point, you do
not necessarily have to let a potential employer know about
By keeping busy while you are between jobs, you can turn a
would-be gap into a learning experience. Consider using the
following tactics to fill those gaps:
Take a class related to your profession. Being in school
accounts for your time off, and employers like to see people
bettering themselves through education.
Look for freelance or consulting projects. These jobs are
not permanent, but they do ensure that you keep up-to-date
with your skills. You can put this type of work on your
resume as if it were any other kind of job.
Volunteer for an organization. Getting paid would be ideal,
but future employers are concerned with your work
experience. To a recruiter, a volunteering position can be
just as good as a paying job.
Read trade journals. Though this method may not be something
you put on your resume, it will help you stay current with
the industry. Conveying the newest information possible in
an interview shows that you have not lost your knowledge of
3) DODGE RESUME GAPS
Not everyone will be able to find a creative way to fill the
gaps in their employment history. If you find yourself in
this situation, it is no longer an issue of proving your
time was occupied. Instead, you should focus on the fact
that you are still skilled and qualified.
However, most resumes focus on time by addressing
experiences chronologically. Consider using the following
suggestions to draw attention away from your time between
Don't distinguish between paid
and unpaid work on your resume. This way you can have a
seemingly continuous string of jobs, even if you volunteered
for the sake avoiding an employment gap.
Use only years (not months)
when listing work dates on your resume. This can discretely
cover several months of unemployment.
Summarize what you did while
you did not have a job. It may seem awkward to put this kind
of information directly on your resume, but it is more
important to let recruiters know you used your time wisely.
Use a functional resume.
Unlike the traditional chronological resume, a functional
resume puts less emphasis on the timing of work experiences.
Instead, a functional resume emphasizes skills, which
employers care more about.
4) MENTION MAJOR GAPS
The last important step in
handling employment gaps is deciding when to discuss them.
Unless you can completely hide the gap, a recruiter will
eventually spot it. If you are prepared to address the
issue, you can avoid a potential disaster.
There are basically 2 schools of thought on this issue:
address an employment gap in your cover letter or address it
in the interview. Neither approach is wrong; neither
approach is right. It is a matter of personal taste. Just
consider these points before deciding, which approach you
In a cover letter, make your
explanation very brief. A one or two-sentence long
explanation is enough. Details are not important.
If a gap occurred a long time
ago, don't bother mentioning it in a cover letter. Employers
are concerned with your recent work, not something that
happened 10 years ago.
In an interview, still keep
your explanation brief. The only reason to go into deeper
detail is if you gained valuable experiences during your
No matter what, END ON A
POSITIVE NOTE. Whether you address the gap in a cover letter
or an interview, state that you are ready and excited to get
back to work.
Hopefully, these steps will
give you ideas on how to handle your own employment gaps.
It's a difficult task to do, but it is also one of the most
valuable. Having employment gaps shouldn't keep you from
finding a job, but only you can stop the cycle from
repeating itself. This article can be read online and shared
with others directly at:
About The Author
Nathan Newberger is the job and career expert at http://www.WorkTree.com
Nathan has over 10 years experience in staffing and human
resources. He has worked both as a recruiter and career
counselor. Mr. Newberger has been the Managing Editor at
http://www.WorkTree.com for the past 5 years and his
articles have helped thousands of job seekers.