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Confidently address gaps in your resume using these 5 tips

No matter how positive your attitude, unemployment is frustrating, especially when it is longer than you planned. Many people have recently found themselves without a job due to issues relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Parents have had to leave their careers to become caregivers and teach their children at home. Others have lost their jobs due to businesses experiencing financial strain as a result of quarantining or continued supply chain issues.

While employers understand this, they want to hear how you made the best of this situation. How do you do this? Find ways to positively address gaps you've had in your employment history.

While it may seem difficult, it can be done. With a little creative thinking and positive initiative, you can explain your personal resume gap while also demonstrating to your potential employer that you're committed to personal and professional growth. Confidently sharing about the gaps in your employment can help you edge out a competitor who isn't displaying a willingness to talk about their resume gaps.

5 ways to confidently address gaps in your resume

When an employer asks, “What have you been doing since your last job?” your answer should never be “Nothing.” Instead, follow these guidelines for how to confidently address any gaps in your resume.

Address the resume gap in a cover letter

One way to address a gap in your resume is to explain it in your cover letter. There's not enough space on a resume to clearly detail the facts behind your employment gap. Be upfront and honest about why you were unemployed. Maybe your company laid you off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and you were waiting to receive a call back to work. Perhaps the business you worked for downsized and you happened to be the lucky person who was terminated. Whatever the cause of your resume gap, make sure you are sincere and truthful about the circumstances.

With that being said, some employers don't read cover letters or they may only scan through them for pertinent information. You'll want to be ready to give an honest explanation for the gap in your resume during the interview process.

Include the reason for the gap on your resume

When adding your employment history, note the reason for any gaps in your resume as its own job or occupation. If you chose to be a stay-at-home mother while raising your children, list it chronologically in the employment history section. Follow the same format you use for all other work positions but fill it in with the reason for the gap. Follow the example below:

  • Full-time stay-at-home-mom, Tucson, Arizona, 2010 - 2020
  • Stayed at home to raise my two children until they were old enough to attend elementary school
  • Currently looking to re-enter the workforce and once again focus on my career

Change the resume format

Most resumes are laid out in similar formats, beginning with a professional summary, followed by your employment history, skills and abilities section, and educational experience. If you wish to avoid obvious gaps in your work history, consider using a functional resume format or a combination of both a functional and chronological resume.

A functional resume highlights your skills and achievements, making these the focus rather than your work history. You can include sections, such as:

  • Career summary
  • Professional experience
  • Key accomplishments
  • Professional development

A combination of both types of resumes may feature your skills, abilities, and professional achievements at the top of your resume, followed by your work history and experience. Rather than listing your work history in chronological order, you can simply note the positions you held with a brief description of your duties and responsibilities.

Be honest about your gap when asked

Whatever the reason for your resume gap, be honest when asked about it. Employers understand that life happens and you don't have much control over it at times. Whether you were laid off, terminated, took a sabbatical, stayed home to care for children or an elderly parent, or were unable to work due to the pandemic, it's always best to be forthright about your particular circumstances.

At this point, you can also share any continuing education classes you took, professional training you participated in, or licenses or certifications you earned. This will show the employer that you took advantage of this time to improve yourself and develop your professional skills.

Mention valuable experience you gained during the resume gap

If you participated in any leadership training, worked a part-time job, or spent time with family, don't be afraid to mention this in your cover letter, on your resume, or during your interview. Experience can be valuable, and a possible employer may want to see how you used this time to improve your circumstances. Maybe you volunteered at your child's school, helped out with a community fundraiser, or started a side business. These actions demonstrate how you prioritized taking care of your family or took steps to improve as an individual.

These tips for addressing gaps in your resume can help you get back into the job market. CareerBuilder.com is also a valuable tool for searching for your next position. Upload your resume today and begin looking for that job that will help you reach your professional and personal goals.

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