Addressing Employment Gaps

Nancy Anderson
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Thanks to low unemployment in the United States, as of December 2018, there are more jobs available, and more people are landing good-paying jobs. This means you have plenty of opportunities to get back into the workforce on a full-time basis. Find out some best practices for explaining employment gaps in your resume when the hiring manager questions you about them.

1. Own It

First and foremost, be confident about your employment gaps. There's no shame in taking some time away from work. The key here is demonstrating what you did during your time away from the labor force. No matter your reason for stepping away from paid work, you can fill your week with volunteering, going to school, freelancing, starting a business, earning a professional certification or honing your skills. Make sure to list these accomplishments and achievements on a resume, and you can even create a separate section for them to demonstrate your overall skillset.

2. Be Honest

When the hiring manager asks you about what happened during your gaps in employment, say you took the time away to prioritize certain things in your life and that you needed to jumpstart your career. Employers appreciate honesty and integrity. That's why you should explain precisely why you took off and how you gained valuable knowledge during your employment gaps. For example, you could say you took time off to help an ailing loved one. When you had a few spare moments, you earned some part-time income from freelancing in the gig economy. That's when you show the hiring manager your portfolio website or have a link to the website on your resume.

Honesty also means accuracy in your work history. List your dates of employment as accurately and precisely as possible, with the month and year of employment. Don't fudge on these, because the HR department most likely checks your background information. Anything that seems off might sink your chances of landing an interview.

3. Highlight Skills

Rather than have a chronological resume with the most recent employment first, list past jobs that showcase your most relevant skills first. For example, you spent five years at a management job that you had 10 years ago. Use a bulleted list to highlight the skills you learned at this position. Do the same for the next position, and so on and so forth. Make sure you still list the dates of employment.

You can create a chronological list of your experience, just make sure to emphasize a skills section. Consider putting the skills section above your experience to put less focus on your employment gaps. The idea is to showcase that your skillset outweighs any time you took off of work by downplaying the gaps.

4. Stay Positive

Always stay positive, no matter what reasons you have for employment gaps. Being fired isn't pleasant, but that may be one reason why you had six months away from work. Although gaps aren't necessarily desirable, you can mitigate any worries from the hiring manager by showing you did fill the gaps with relevant activities.

Employment gaps don't have to sink your chances of landing a great job. Keep these tips in mind whenever you apply for a job to help boost your results. What do you do to explain your gaps in employment?

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