When creating your résumé, you may struggle with how to address a gap in your employment. While it’s critical to be honest on your résumé, there are steps to help draw attention to your work experience or abilities and away from your time spent out of the workforce. It’s also important to remain confident. If you dwell on your unemployed time, you’re not focusing on the skills and abilities you bring to the workplace. Keep in mind that most people understand that having a blank spot in your résumé isn’t inconceivable, life happens and sometimes that life takes you away from work. Here are three tips to handling a gap in your résumé.
Formatting to Highlight the Positive
Instead of using a standard chronological format for your résumé, consider a skills-focused résumé that begins by highlighting your skills and education. Make sure to keep your résumé clear and organized. When you use a format that isn’t as common, it’s important to make sure it’s easy to read and still addresses the points in a traditional chronological résumé. It is better to put your work experience and skills above your education because that portion really develops a picture of how you can impact the workplace. Make sure to use specifics when describing your skills, such as how fast you can work, specific sales goals you achieved, or solutions you created that saved money for your past employer. Make sure to cite the versions of computer software you are comfortable working with, and if you aren’t up to date in the current versions, consider taking a class at a local community college, technical school, or online training. You also need to include a list of past employers at the conclusion of a skills-focused résumé.
Put the Cover Letter to Work
It’s important to use a unique cover letter for each position you are applying for, which allows you to specifically cite how your skills and achievements match the requirements of the job. Again, it’s important to paint the picture of how you can impact the workplace and fit into the job. The cover letter is a great place to briefly address the gap in your résumé. Be as direct and concise as possible. For example, “I’m excited to return to the workforce now that I’m needed less at home.” Or, “We’ve been traveling for the past few years for my husband’s job. I’m excited that we have settled here, and I can now return the workforce full time.” If you are seeking a job in a professional role, it may be good to quote a recent trade article or technological development to assure the potential employer you’ve kept a pulse on your career field while out of the workforce. Additionally, if you are a member of a professional organization, check to see if the person hiring for the role is in the same organization, and cite in the cover letter that you hope to meet them at the next networking event. This indicates your involvement in the professional world.
Work Your Network
Now’s the time to activate your networking skills. Send copies of your résumé to former colleagues and co-workers to let them know you are returning to the workforce and would appreciate any referrals to open positions. At Express, 40% of our associates come from referrals. If you know someone at a company you are applying for, it helps to contact that person and see if they can assist you in your application process. Additionally, if this person understands the gap in your résumé, they can help defer attention from it and reaffirm your commitment to joining the workforce. Don’t wait before you find a job to attend community networking events or professional association meetings, but join them as a way to support your job search. If possible, let your network know you’d be willing to take contract or temporary assignments while you are looking for a full-time position to help you return to the workforce even sooner.
Do you have an example to share on how you’ve managed a gap on your résumé?
By Rachel Rudisill