Employment gaps are a natural part of any career that many are bound to go through at one point or another.
Whether you took some time off to tend to urgent matters or whether you were simply laid off or looking to rediscover yourself, knowing why and how to explain this time lapse is an important part of resume writing that most haven’t fully grasped.
So what is the best way to deal with gaps in your resume? Here are a few pointers to ensure you know how to effectively fill the cracks:
- 1 First things first – is it prudent to mention an employment gap?
- 2 How to Butter up Employment Gaps to Make Them Less Conspicuous
- 3 How to handle employment gaps in an interview
- 4 Parting Shot
First things first – is it prudent to mention an employment gap?
Well, it depends on the circumstances. For instance, if you have been employed since the absence occurred then you can leave this information off your CV.
If, on the other hand, it comes prior to a potential job offer, then concealing it might not bode too well with your to-be employers. All in all, you have no obligation to outline all your experience in its entirety particularly if you have a depth of experience spanning years.
This by no means insinuates that you should lie about your employment gap- or any other detail on your resume for that matter- far from it; you should be as truthful as possible.
Lying on your CV is a ticking time bomb that is set to explode in your face at the most inopportune moment because employers more often than not will verify the credibility of your work history sooner or later.
How to Butter up Employment Gaps to Make Them Less Conspicuous
1) Be general with the dates
If you were in a position extending several years and had a brief gap lasting just a few months, then listing dates generally provides a nice way to white out the blanks.
You can, for example, say you held a position from this year to that year- e.g. 2017-present- instead of from this month to that e.g. June 2016- May 2018. The latter way of stating dates makes employment gaps stand out so it is a definite no-no.
However, job applications will require more detail than that and so will face-to-face interviews. Therefore, you should always have accurate answers at the ready just in case the line of questioning comes up.
2) Use appropriate resume formats
There are a couple of ways you can make employment gaps fade into the background by making them unrecognizable amidst a sea of more outstanding formats.
For one, you could steer clear of bold texts for such dates and use plain text instead. Alternatively, you could also use a smaller font than that of the accompanying text.
When writing an opening statement summing up your career achievements, be sure to concentrate on the what, where, and how rather than the when. These little format and design nitty-gritty can make a world of difference.
3) Leave out a job or two from your CV
It has become somewhat acceptable to omit a job or two (experience) especially if you have been working for a long time.
The general rule of thumb is up to 15 years for professional or managerial positions and five less than that figure for other positions.
4) Highlight what you achieved during the employment gap
Did you spend your break kicking up your feet on the sofa or were you actively involved in some consultative or freelance work?
If the latter is the case then outlining your achievements during this period can tilt things in your favor. List any experience gained as you would any other work or education milestone.
The cover letter is a great place to explain your absence but you need not let your employer know about it until it’s absolutely necessary.
How to handle employment gaps in an interview
Blanking out employment gaps on paper is one thing but navigating the subject in an actual sit-down with your employer is another and can prove to be a tricky minefield.
But it doesn’t have to be if you are honest and direct. Explain the reason for your absence, whether voluntary or otherwise, and make sure to reaffirm that the matter you left to handle has been fully resolved and that you are ready to work.
If a workforce contraction was why you were laid off, support your termination with documented evidence of competency in the form of recommendations from satisfied customers, colleagues, and supervisors.
Dwell on the positive and steer clear of any mudslinging of your previous employer or workmates.
If a new job requires a different set of skills from the ones you have, turn your current expertise into strengths that make you the right man for the job.
And that’s just about it when it comes to employment gaps so there is nothing else left to say but good luck!