Here's the Correct Way to Address a Gap in Your Resume

Posted December 22, 2015

For years, we've heard about how periods of unemployment, or "employment gaps," can derail your chances of landing a new job - but the recent Great Recession has changed all that.

Hiring managers are now reporting that they see numerous resumes with employment gaps, and these deficiencies aren't the black marks they once were. However, they do expect job candidates to be able to explain what they did during that time away from a regular job.

List the skills or experiences you gained

Hopefully, you didn't spend your unemployed days sitting on the couch watching The Price is Right and eating take-out food.

Hiring managers fully expect you to be doing something to develop your professional skills. Ideally, that something is gaining new abilities or taking part in new experiences. If you’ve gone back to school, attended workshops or enrolled in online classes - be sure to make a space for that on your resume.

Even if these educational endeavors were learning how to cook or in pursuing an interest - listing them shows you have passion and take initiative. We've all dreamed of opening a small café or starting a fashion line, and with the current focus on local 'maker' economies - there's nothing wrong with staking out the logistics of your dream.

Dig deep to find transferrable skills

If you took time away from your career to raise children or tend to an ailing family member, you may not have had the opportunity to annex you professional skill set. In these instances, you simply need to do a deeper dive into how you managed your time and look at ways in which you gained or honed transferrable skills.

For example, if you spent time managing the care of an older parent or relative - you could say you learned about interacting with insurance agents, negotiating care, managing limited finances and dealing with uncomfortable situations. If, on the other hand, you took time away from work to raise a child - you could say you practiced time management, budgeting, communication and conflict resolution skills. (And learned how to be productive on little sleep!)

For this somewhat liberal assessment of your time away from work, you may want to create a separate section, such as Soft Skills or Non-Traditional Experience. If you do create a special section, be sure to explain its purpose and the nature of your skills or experiences.

Be realistic, yet assertive and confident about your time away

It's important to be realistic when outlining soft skills you may have picked up away from a traditional job. If you play fast and loose with the facts, they will not stand up to scrutiny by a hiring manager.

If you do get challenged on a gap in your employment history, be confident and assertive about how you spent your time. The recent recession has hit a lot of people and companies should be open-minded about candidates having a stretch of unemployment.

At Ambassador, one of the leading employment firms in the South, we have numerous jobseekers who walk through our door with gaps in their employment history. If you're looking for an agency that will listen to you, support you and help you connect with the right companies in the industries of your choice, come to Ambassador. Your success is our top priority!