Posted by Brian McCullough
You’ve been out of the workforce for a period of time. How do you explain this gap in work history on your resume? After all, you can explain away anything once you get to the interview. But your resume has a big gap in dates on it, and you can’t do a footnote explaining why this has happened, can you?
The way I see it, you have two options and basically two options only:
Option A: Be Honest.
Were you out of work for health reasons? Family reasons? Were you out of work because you took time off to raise your kids? If so, the best thing you can do is be straight up honest about this. Put something in your career history that says something like this:
2007-2011 Took Time Off To Raise Children
Honesty is the best policy because we can all understand this sort of thing. In fact, it’s happened to the majority of us. Who do you know who has worked 40-years solid in their career. You have to trust the hiring manager can understand if you took some time off to recover from a major surgery or nurse an ailing parent.
What if you took time off to be a homemaker? Listen. It’s not 1972. Employers in this day and age are familiar with, and comfortable with the idea of parents of either gender taking some time off to raise the kids and then attempting to re-enter the workforce.
Some people will give you suggestions to “cute up” your resume by doing things like putting: “Domestic Executive” or something like that on your resume to explain your time as a Mr. Mom or Mrs. Dad. They want you to change things like, “Took kids to soccer practice,” into: “Itinerary and scheduling liaison.”
Don’t do it. You raised your kids. We know what it entailed. Getting too cute can sometimes come off as just that: too cute. Unprofessional.
Option B: There Is No Gap.
But what if you got laid off?
In other words, what if you have a gap in your work-history through no choice of your own? How do you explain the months (years?) for which you have no employer and job title listed?
As I’ve written before, hopefully when you get laid off, you immediately get proactive.
The job search is your job. Always be plugging away at it. But don’t sit there twiddling your thumbs when you’re not sending out resumes.
If you’ve gotten laid off, immediately begin DOING THINGS.
Think about it. If you were a professional athlete, and you got cut from the first team, would you sit around and be fallow? Or would you immediately double down in the gym, get in better shape, learn new skills or double down on old ones, all so you could show the coach that you were ready to be called up again at a moment’s notice?
Exactly. You want to show employers that you might be on the DL, but you’re still committed to this game, and you’re ready for the call up whenever it happens.
So, as soon as you get laid off or find yourself without a job:
- Volunteer (hopefully in ways related to your career)
- Teach (hopefully in subjects related to your career)
- Go back to school and learn new skills
- Attend conferences related to your career.
All of these things can be inserted into your resume as pseudo job titles to help explain the gap, or even close it completely. At the very least, they would tell an employer you never took yourself out of the game, even though you were sidelined for a time.
Hopefully everyone reading this who is unemployed has already done this. If not? Get out there. It’s not too late.
And if you still can’t creatively explain a gap in your resume, well… I can’t think of a better reason to hire a professional resume service.
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- Ask Brian- What To Do When Asked For Salary History Or Salary Requirements
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