You wouldn’t believe how many qualified candidates there are out there. When a job is posted, dozens or even hundreds of people apply for it. Companies rarely have the time to go through all the applications they receive for a given opening. In their attempts to find the perfect candidate, organizations reject as many resumes as possible, as fast as they can. The only one will get the job, of course. Convincing a hiring manager to take a chance on you and ignore the more qualified applicants is a tough task based on a piece of paper alone. What can make it even more challenging is if you have had gaps in employment?
If your resume unveils employment gaps, you can expect the employer to ask questions. Will you be able to commit? Are you ambitious enough? These are only some of the questions that employment gaps can provoke. Employment gaps are viewed as warning signs, so a negative reaction is not out of the question. The hiring manager may choose to proceed, yet they’ll want to know it’s worth it.
Good Reasons for Gaps in Your Employment History
No matter the reason why you weren’t employed at a job you have to address those empty spaces in the resume. There are numerous legitimate reasons for spending time unemployed. Provide straightforward explanations at the job interview. Here are some examples of acceptable reasons to take time off from one’s career:
1. Health Issues
Employment gaps are commonly due to illness, either physical or mental. If you have any health or medical issue, let the employer know about it in a face-to-face situation. Hiring managers are interested in your recent experience, so state that you took time off from work to undergo treatment. You’ve accomplished a great many things during that time and you’re ready to re-join the workforce. That is the most important thing of all.
2. Taking Care of A Family Member
Maybe you took leave when a family member suddenly became ill. This is a legitimate reason to have a gap in employment, so don’t try to hide it. You’ll not lose your dream job for a justified period of absence in which you helped out an ailing relative, such as a child, parent, or spouse. Understanding and compassion are part of the hiring process, which means you needn’t worry.
3. The Former Company Downsized the Team
When a company downsizes, the number of jobs in the organisation is reduced. Numerous companies terminate employees to save money. Recruiters know what’s happening in the world of job search. The gap in employment occurred for an involuntary reason, yet you may have to explain things.
4. Taking Some Time to Travel the World
Taking time off to travel can be a good selling point. If you’ve spent a few months travelling the world, that’s great. Travel increases confidence and helps you adapt easily to new situations. Taking some time to travel prevents, burnout, inspires new ideas, and keeps you learning and growing.
5. Pursuing Further Study or Going Back to School
Nobody can blame you for prioritising education. Perhaps you have decided to pursue further study or go back to school. This resume gap can turn out to be an advantage, as hiring managers are looking for knowledgeable, valuable people. Advancing your education helps you become more qualified in the field, meaning there are benefits for the business too. Say that you were attending school full-time.
6. Starting and Trying to Run A Personal Business
Becoming your own boss makes perfect sense because you can pursue your own paycheck. If you started a business out of nothing and strived to make it profitable, be proud because you’ve got impressive experience. When the employer asks you “Why is there a gap in your resume?” you can hold your head up.
How To Explain Your Resume Gaps
So what if you’ve got gaps in your resume? You took some time away from your career and that’s perfectly fine. You had very good reasons to break from employment. Without an explanation, the employer will assume the worst. If the gaps have been longer and occurred many times, consider bringing light to your past experiences.
- Get ready– Look through your work history and identify gaps in employment. If the periods between jobs weren’t longer than 6 months, hiring managers will assume you were job hunting and won’t give it any attention. If you have a gap longer than that prepare yourself.
- Show confidence– Have confidence in what you can do. You spent the time you weren’t employed acquiring new skills, many of which are relevant for the position you’re applying for. The past experiences have enabled you to gain valuable skills. Highlight your interests and the skills relating to the job in question.
- Offer a direct and honest explanation– Be transparent. The hiring manager is going to find out about the resume gaps one way or the other, so it’s better to come clean. Employers are like everybody else, so they can relate to personal events and understand the circumstances of your situation.
- Don’t share too much– Clearly and concisely state your reasons. Explain the missing work history, but don’t get into details. It’s not necessary to give a ton of personal reasons. Stick to the core facts.
Some Ideas To Help Make Your Resume Stand Out
What you have to do is prove the hiring manager that you’re a true asset. When writing your resume, you’ll want to:
Effectively Format Your Resume By Focusing On Highlights
Functional resumes are better for some job seekers. Instead of focusing on the chronological work history, these CVs emphasise skills and experience. If you have some gaps in your employment history, structure it in such a way that your career achievements stand out.
Linda Jones, head of the recruitment department and in charge of the selection process at TrustMyPaper, believes that “it’s possible to format a CV so that it appears to be more promising. If you don’t want the recruiter to move onto the next candidate, focus on your key career achievements, rather than dates. Present yourself as a professional and your resume will read well among hiring managers. A functional resume is what you need to land the job”.
Talk About the Gained Experiences During the Break
During the months or years that you weren’t active, you took part in numerous activities, which allowed you to gain invaluable skills. If you were travelling abroad, for instance, draw attention to how this particular experience let you grow and learn. Basically, show your potential employer that you weren’t wasting time. Explain how the gap adds value to your candidacy.
Provide Proof of Employment
Regardless of the reason behind your break that will fall under the shadow if you show them that you are an exceptional employee. If possible, offer an employment verification letter that validates your work history. The hiring manager needs to know how you are.
Don’t Include Months on Your Resume
Use years rather than months. This way, the gap can seem shorter or even invisible. You should always list the years you worked. Make sure to have your dates aligned and show the dates you spent at each organisation in bold, as it’ll be easier to spot the information. When you just use years in case your employment spans over multiple years.
To sum up, you can get hired even if you have gaps in your employment history. Don’t hide the resume gaps. Be transparent and hope for the best. Recruiters understand that life is unpredictable and they won’t discard you just because you’ve taken a break from your career.
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Marie Fincher is a content writer with a background in marketing, technology and business intelligence. She frequently writes about data science, BI, new marketing trends and branding strategies. Marie gradually changed her focus from working in marketing to writing about it. She regularly contributes to a blog called 3to5marketing.