Not every career trajectory follows a traditional path. Unfortunately, gaps in your resume can raise red flags for prospective employers.
There are so many different reasons why you might have some gaps in your professional resume. But, whether you took time off to raise a family, for example, or struggled to find work for a while, there are some things you can do to help address the missing time.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Be prepared
The first thing to do if you have gaps in your professional experience is to prepare to address them. Try to close those gaps on your actual resume, if possible. There are several different ways to do that, as we’ll show in a moment.
You’ll also need to prepare to explain any gaps that remain when you’re called for an interview. Know that these problems are common, and solvable, but ready yourself to put some time and energy into addressing them during your job search.
2. Discuss training and education
Did you learn any new skills while you were away from the working world? Of course, if you took a formal class or worked toward a degree, you should mention that on your resume. But, you should also think about whether you honed skills in some other way during this time.
The training and education that you gain as you walk along your career path doesn’t have to be a part of a formal program for it to be valid. Feel free to discuss how you learned and grew during your time away. If you received any training or education that someone else can verify, you should put that right on your resume.
3. Note volunteer work
Did you do any volunteer work during your time off? If so, you should definitely add that and be ready to discuss it during an interview.
Are there skills you learned or character traits that you developed through these experiences that you will bring to your next job? Be ready to discuss these things if your resume gap comes up during an interview.
4. Bridge with freelance and contract work
You can, and should, put all kinds of different work experiences on your resume. You don’t have to work a traditional 9-to-5 for a big company in order for a job to make the cut. In fact, 35 percent of the total US workforce were freelancers in 2016, and those numbers continue to climb. So, these experiences won’t come as a surprise to employers.
5. Think about how you grew
When you get to the interview stage of your job search process, be ready to answer questions about any lapses in your resume that still remain. You’ll want to do this in a way that shows how the time benefited you professionally.
For example, maybe you quit your job to travel the world. Explain how those travels helped you learn about your industry on a more international scale, if that was the case. Or, talk about how you learned so much about different people and cultures during your travels, and you know that those experiences will benefit you, and your organization, tremendously in the future.
6. Don’t worry about shorter gaps
If the gap in your resume is less than a year, there’s nothing to worry about. These kinds of breaks from employment are common. You don’t need to say anything about it or address it.
“Shorter time frames of up to a year or so aren’t absolute necessities to explain on a resume,” Teena Rose, director of the resume-writing firm ExpertResumes, told Monster. “Hiring managers understand job candidates will have date gaps from time to time….”
7. Be honest
No matter what, always be honest on your resume and throughout the job search process. Everyone’s life follows a unique trajectory. Embrace yours, and be ready to discuss it with pride and confidence. All of your experiences made you who you are today. If you’re comfortable and proud of who you are today, and the path you’ve walked, potential employers will be more likely to see all of the unique gifts you bring to the table.
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