Resume Gaps: How to Explain Employment Gaps on Resume

Resume Gaps: How to Explain Employment Gaps on Resume


Hi, I’m Jeri Walker, Career & Job Search
Strategist and I receive questions from people asking, “I was laid off and I haven’t
been working for several months, how do I explain this on my resume”? In this video, I’m going to teach you about
how you can address an employment gap on your resume. If you’re currently unemployed or have had
a gap in employment, the first thing I want you to do is put this employment gap in perspective. People step away from the workforce for a
lot of different reasons—they may have family responsibilities like raising children or
caring for an elderly parent. They may be working on some educational goals,
or they may have been laid off due to a corporate downsize. If you’re qualified for a position and your
resume demonstrates this, most employers aren’t going to penalize you for a gap. Recruiters see these things all the time so
if you’re not apologetic and don’t make a big deal about it, neither will they. There’s two different situations to deal
with regarding employment gaps. If the gap was in the past and you’re currently
employed, then there’s really not a great need to address it on the resume. Focus on your current job experiences and
career highlights and just be prepared to discuss the gap in the interview. Now, one thing you can do is list your employment
dates in years only so the period of your gap isn’t so obvious. For example, look at the difference in this
presentation that lists exact months of employment. It’s obvious here that there was an eight
month gap of employment. Now compare that to this presentation that
lists only the years. You can see that by removing the months and
just using the years, the gap disappears. Now if you’re currently unemployed, things
become a little trickier for a couple of reasons. One, with so many companies using the automated
Applicant Tracking Systems, your resume may be penalized or even kicked off into the black
hole if you don’t have a current employer listed on your resume. Also, if you aren’t currently working and
don’t address it, you’re really leaving it up to the recruiter to assume why that
is. And they may not assume the best story as
to why you aren’t working or why nobody will hire you. So here’s how you deal with this You use a Combination Resume Format with a
placeholder for your current position. There are basically three types of resumes. There is a Chronological format which is the
one you’re probably the most familiar with. It lists all of your work history in reverse
chronological order with the most current position listed first. Then there is the Functional resume. This is a resume that lists your job experience
by your skills or areas of expertise and really minimizes exact employer history. I don’t recommend using them because they’re
often perceived by recruiters as an attempt to hide large gaps in your work history. They just seem sketchy. Now the third type of resume is the Combination
resume which starts with a professional summary, your career highlights, achievements, and
skills on the top part of the resume, then followed by a chronological time line of your
work experience. This is really the best format for you to
use because if you do a good job on the top section of the resume, by the time the recruiter
gets down to the area that reflects your job gap, you’ve already impressed them! I do have a video that goes over everything
that should be on the top part of your resume, I’ll put a link for that down below so be
sure to watch it. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re not currently
working, I generally recommend that you have a placeholder as a current work experience
so that you won’t have problems with the online Applicant Tracking Systems. This means you have a current “employer”
which you can call for example, “Professional Sabbatical” and a job title which is the
job title that reflects either your last job or your target job title, assuming you have
that level of expertise. You don’t need much text under this position,
just one short sentence is plenty. Keep in mind that recruiters aren’t interested
in the fact that you’re unemployed as much as they’re interested in what you’ve been
doing with this time. They want to know how you’ve been spending
your time that has helped you maintain or improve your professional skills. And a quick sentence will generally address
this. If you’ve been getting some professional
certifications, completing coursework, or doing volunteer work that’s related to your
vocation or skillset you should mention it. Or if you’ve been networking to generate
some consulting opportunities, that’s certainly more productive than binge watching Judge
Judy all day. Anything you’ve been doing of a professional
nature during your gap can and should be reflected in this current position. Here’s a few examples of what this might
look like. This first example is one that you can use
if you were laid off or downsized. The quick explanation tells the recruiter
that while you aren’t currently working, you’re keeping in touch with your industry
to maintain your skills and keep your expertise fresh. Next, this is an example of what you can do
if you’ve taken some time off and are currently working on some type of certification or education. Now this next example works if you’ve been
doing volunteer work using your professional skills and expertise. Do be cautious and make sure that it’s perfectly
clear that this is a volunteer position and not an actual paid position, otherwise it
could appear that you’re trying to pull a fast one on the recruiter. And then finally this last example is one
you can use if you’ve been doing some consulting work. Again, keep it short, just enough to give
a taste of what it is that you’ve been doing. What do you do if none of these situations
apply to you? Well, either start researching your industry
trends, take a professional course, volunteer using your professional skills, or do some
freelance work! Because you want to present yourself as someone
who is plugged into your industry and hasn’t become stale due to your absence from the
workforce. And please don’t fake it—actually do one
or more of these things so your resume is honest! Plus, if you’ve been in a long term unemployment
situation, you’ll be surprised at how much better you will feel if you do activities
outside of just looking at job boards all the time. Also, if you have taken a leave due to personal
reasons, it’s not really necessary to address that on your resume. Just select one of those four examples or
a similar iteration that applies and save any additional clarification for the interview. I hope this gives you some ideas on how you
can address your job gap on your resume. If you liked this video, please give it a
thumbs up, and subscribe to my channel for more career and job search advice. Thanks for watching, I’ll see you next time.