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What to Do If You Have Gaps in Your Employment History

Posted July 19th, 2017

Job seekers can have gaps in their employment history for a variety of reasons. Some took time away from the working world to raise a family, some decided to change careers and had to take time off to refocus their education in a new direction, and others simply had difficulties finding a new position after leaving one.

People are often told that gaps in their work history doom their chances of finding a great job. But, that simply isn’t the case. To help you navigate these seemingly tricky waters, here are some tips to help you land your next position even with gaps in your resume.

Is It Really a Gap?

Your first step should be to determine if you are actually dealing with a true gap. For example, did you leave work to further your education? Were you volunteering? If you were doing activities such as those, the hole you’re seeing might not actually exist.

Often employers want to know what was happening while you weren’t working. If you were taking classes to finish a degree, many companies wouldn’t be concerned that you weren’t working as well. If you were volunteering while away from traditional employment, list those experiences on your resume just as you would if you were getting paid to manage those tasks.

In these cases, you are effectively removing the perceived gap, eliminating the issue entirely.

Compensate for the Gap

Volunteering can also be an excellent approach for nullifying a gap. If you’ve been out of the workforce for some time, consider picking up a volunteer position to put some experience on your resume first. While the gap may exist, the employer will see you’ve been doing something recently, which can alleviate some of their concerns.

Education is another way to help manage the ill-effects of a longer gap, especially if you work in a field that evolves quickly. For example, a software developer may want to take a few courses to show their skills are current with today’s standards. Often, these need to be more than simple refreshers to be effective when talking to potential employers, but you don’t necessarily have to complete an entirely new degree to make them count.

Adjust Your Resume

When most people create a resume, they default to the chronological approach. However, a functional resume may help you downplay gaps in your employment history by allowing you to focus on your competencies. Typically, this format carries with it some risk, as it can be more difficult to read and some employers may assume you have something to hide. However, it is an option worth exploring, especially if the gap is large.

Use the Cover Letter

If the gap in your work history is recent, consider speaking to it briefly in your cover letter. Address the gap in one or two sentences, and then assert your excitement about returning to the workforce. Don’t get too personal with your explanation, as the hiring manager won’t typically need the details, and don’t take too much time to cover it. Instead, touch on it quickly and move on.

If you are interested in learning more about managing gaps in your employment history or would like to find a new opportunity to rejoin the workforce, the team at Bayside Solutions can help. Contact us to discuss your goals and see how our services can get you back on your career path.

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