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How to deal with a career gap on your resume?

February 3, 2020 Business News, Careers No Comments Email Email


There could be a thousand reasons why a person would have to take a break from their career. Some people try their hands on being an entrepreneur and sadly do not succeed. Many others take time off while starting a new family or while taking care of a sick family member.

Or there are other situations like getting fired or laid off that might lead to a career gap on your resume.

Does this mean that you are no longer competent enough to start from where you left off? Absolutely not! But it might take a little bit more to convince recruiters of the same fact as most tend to view career gaps on a resume as red flags.

Here are 7 tips on how to effectively deal with a career gap on your resume:

  1. You do not need to mention career gaps on your resume

Have you returned to the workforce since you took the break? If you have then do not deliberately highlight this gap. Having found employment once is enough to reestablish your foothold in your industry. So, if you are changing jobs now, avoid mentioning the gap on your resume. 

When did you take this break? If it was a long time ago or near to when you first entered the workforce and now you have built a career, omit to mention it on your resume.

A seasoned professional doesn’t even need to mention their earlier jobs on the resume so naturally, you can skip this gap in your career.

If you still feel like you need to cover up these gaps by making up fictitious freelancing jobs or something similar, we would strongly advise against it. Lies are often caught by recruiters when they conduct background checks so save yourself the embarrassment and stick to the truth.

  1. Make your career gaps less obvious

You can strategically format your employment dates to successfully hide a gap without being deceitful.

Take for instance a person who was employed at their first job from January of 2015 to February of 2017 and took a gap from then to December of 2017. If they were to only mention the years of their employment and not the months, no one would be the wiser about the gap.

If however asked explicitly about your employment history in the interview. Be honest!

  1. Choose the resume format that best hides career gaps

Another honest way of hiding career gaps is using a less conventional Functional Resume Format.This resume format functions to keep the limelight on your skillset and keeps your career trajectory in the background. In this format, the ‘Summary of Skills’ section is at the center stage where points are grouped under relevant skills.

So how is it different from other conventional resume formats? Unlike other formats like the ‘Reverse-Chronological’ and ‘Combination format’, the Functional Resume format does not have a ‘Professional Experience’ section.

This essentially means that the companies you worked for and the duration of your tenure won’t be listed side by side with the points describing your roles & responsibilities.

But no matter whichever resume formats you use, do not lie about your career gaps.

  1. Mention the skills you gathered while you were unemployed

Your engagements in activities like freelancing to keep pace with the industry show that you did not lose touch with the progress happening in your industry while you were out of work. So make sure to mention any of those activities in your resume.

If your gap is because you were traveling, mention any volunteering activities as it is a great way to highlight your transferable skills.

In case you have invested your time in gaining a few relevant certifications make sure to mention them in your resume as it can make the recruiters recognize your credibilities as a suitable applicant.

These experiences can be listed to show that you are employable and not out of touch with your industry.

  1. Certifications and training can count as experience

It’s perfectly justified to take a break because you were not sure about your future in your current industry and wanted to make a switch. Spend this time sharpening the skills your new targeted industry would require.

Engaging in certifications and training is a great way to develop skills.

Even if you did not switch industries and are out of work for any reason, taking some time to gain certifications will help in the long run.

Finding the relevant training or certifications you need to keep your skills sharp and updated are fairly easy. Most can be usually found for free or fairly cheap on the internet. 

Moreover, go to conferences to build a network that can help you find your next opportunities. If you do not know where to look for relevant conferences in your area, use 10times.com. These conferences even offer onsite certification programs that will look great on your resume.

  1. Group freelance work to hide career gaps

If you worked as a freelancer while out of a conventional job, there are chances that you might have worked for multiple clients and at different periods as well.

A great way is to just provide one section for freelancing experience and group these experiences together.

Following the example of the Functional Resume Format, you can simply form skill-based points rather than listing each client and the duration you worked with them separately.

  1. Make sure there are no inconsistencies in your career trajectory

If you have made changes to your resume to hide your career gaps but have not done the same to your social media, especially LinkedIn, you need to get on that immediately.

Background checks through LinkedIn are fairly common in the recruitment world. You do not want a recruiter to come across something in your profile that does not match your resume.

Conclusion

Don’t worry if you have encountered a few bumps in your career path. Focus on your targeted job now  that you are back from your gap and actively looking for a job, all you need to worry about is how to not let a career gap overshadow your qualities and skills.

Here are some key takeaways for you to follow while dealing with your career gaps:

  • If you are a seasoned employee, there is no need to mention fairly old career gaps on your resume.
  • Formatting employment dates a little differently by not mentioning the years but only the months of your employment is a good way to hide smaller career gaps.
  • Use the Functional Resume Format while drafting a resume with career gaps.
  • Engage yourself in activities such as freelancing and volunteering while you take a gap so it will be easier to explain the gap on your resume.
  • Gain certifications or attend conferences and mention these in your resume.
  • Freelancing work can be grouped to avoid mentioning dates.
  • Leave no inconsistencies in your story by updating your social media in line with your resume.

Author’s Bio:

Aditya Sharma

On a quest to help professionals land their dream jobs, Aditya lives and breathes Hiration — an AI-powered online resume builder and platform to help job-seekers around the globe find their way in the treacherous job market — where he’s a Co-Founder and the unofficial CPO (Chief Problem-solving Officer).

 



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