Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for candidates to walk in for an interview presenting several resume gaps in their employment history. The recession took a toll on many good people, who lost their jobs and then spent months or even years trying to find gainful employment. Some headed back to college and lived at home with parents or other family members while trying to get back on their feet. It’s also possible that candidate resume gaps come from brief periods of being stay-at-home parents or when caring for family members.
Whatever the case may be, if you are a candidate facing an interview and need to explain resume gaps, this article will guide you in this process.
Focus on a Functional Resume Format
Instead of creating a resume that shows the chronological order of all your jobs by month and date (calls out your resume gaps more), try a functional resume format that highlights your skills and talents instead. Use your resume to develop a smart-looking career history that’s focused on career achievements and how you’ve used your amazing array of skills, education, and knowledge to progress. If the resume gap is brought up in the interview by the interviewer, you can talk about it then.
Be Honest and Upfront About Resume Gaps
Believe it or not, human resource and recruitment professionals are people too. They appreciate honesty from candidates. Don’t try to cover up lags between jobs, fake employment dates or lie about resume gaps. They will be discovered sooner or later. Instead, just simply include a reason for these gaps on your resume and on applications. If you were laid off or if a company closed down, let the recruiter know.
Indicate What You Were Doing During Resume Gaps
Make sure you provide some indication of what career efforts you were engaged in during resume gaps. For example, if you were attending classes through your local workforce development office, state this so that the recruiter knows you were actively working towards employment. Talk about any volunteer, educational, and other worthy pursuits you were participating in during these gaps in employment.
Get Your Reference Letters in Order
While you are preparing for your interview, be sure to reach out to all your previous employers and get those reference letters written up. Even if you have to write them yourself, take them there, and get a former supervisor or colleague to sign them. This will help you to demonstrate your value to the interviewer and remove the emphasis off your resume gaps.
Once you have done these things, you should be more confident about sitting in front of a potential employer. Work with a staffing agency to find ways to work on temporary assignments while you are looking for a long-term career. Who knows? You may even land a great job sooner than you can imagine and not have to talk a lot about resume gaps in the future if you go this route.