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How to Explain Gaps in Your Resume


What’s the downside to no longer being in a recession? For folks who are still out of work, it’s harder than ever to explain those long periods of unemployment, even if it’s not their fault. (And it very well might not be. The economy is better than it was, but it’s still most charitably described as “slow.”)

The trick, writes Priscilla Claman at Harvard Business Review, is to describe your out-of-work story the right way.

If you’ve been laid off, for example, you want to be honest but positive about the circumstances of the layoff.

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“Be careful in how you describe your relationship to the layoff,” Claman writes. “For example, never say, ‘I was laid off.’ Always indicate you were part of a layoff, if that is in fact true. If you can truthfully say, ‘They kept me on board through the first two layoffs, but as the recession went on…’ that also shows your employer valued you. Give the reason for the layoff when you can. For instance, ‘The whole division associated with this product was laid off.'”

Regardless, the point is to concentrate on the skills and qualifications you have right now. Make sure your resume shows what you’ve been doing since the layoff, even if it’s just a very part-time consulting gig, pro bono work, or some classes. And when you go on interviews and talk to your professional network, talk about the future, not the past, so that people can see that you’re ready to embrace a new stage of your career.

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear from you! How do you explain gaps in your resume? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter, using the hashtag #MakeItHappen.

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(Photo Credit: S. John Davey/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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