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How To “Hide” Unemployment On Your Resume

January 15th, 2011 · Leave A Comment

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How To Hide Unemployment On Your ResumeAnother week, another article on how employers might be discriminating against the unemployed in this job market.

This is a persistent meme that has been floating around since the recession began a couple of years ago. The idea is that employers look around and see a hirerers market. They can pick and choose who they want. So, they say to themselves: anyone that really has anything on the ball would already be employed.

In other words, if you don’t already have a job, then there must be something wrong with you.

It’s completely dumb, but it’s a simple way to weed people out. Of course it’s unfair, and it presents a catch 22 for job seekers: how can I prove I’m employable if I’m not employed!

I’m not going to spend time debating whether employers actually are doing this on a large-scale or not. The perception is very much out there (again, I’ve been hearing it over and over for about 2 years now, so the perception is enough to sort of make it real in enough people’s minds that I’m willing to bet it has currency on some level).

What I do want to address is the following:

How Can I Hide My Recent Period Of Unemployment On My Resume?

So, I’ve got some good news and bad news. Bad first.

The bad news is, you can’t really hide periods of unemployment without lying on your resume. And lying is just a bad, bad idea.

But there are two things you can do to massage your career history a bit… not to make those months of unemployment disappear exactly, but to camouflage them a bit so they don’t stand out on your resume.

  1. Number one, be honest about the layoff date, but there’s no need to count the days. For example, let’s say it’s January (as I’m writing this, it’s January of 2011). And let’s say you got laid off in late October from a job you were in since 2003. You’ve been unemployed for almost 3 months now, but… well… there’s no need to say that exactly. When you list the dates of your most recent employment, list it as 2003-2010. DON’T list it as March 2003 to October 2010. See the difference there? You’re still be honest, but you’re not drawing attention to the specifics of the timeline. Obviously, you can’t use this little technique forever. If it’s now October of 2011 and you’re still looking for a job, saying your last job was in 2010 is going to look a little different.
  2. Number two is my good news advice. And that advice is to fill your career history with things that you’ve done SINCE being laid off. As soon as you get laid off, you should right away do everything you can to keep your head in the game. Start doing contract or consulting work. Try to nail down some part-time work, hopefully tangentially related to your career field. Failing all that, start volunteering… again, hopefully in a field related to your career field. And failing ALL THAT… start doing anything, paid or not, volunteer or whatever, and put that in your career history. In other words, you’ve been unemployed, but that doesn’t mean you HAVE to carve out a giant hole in your resume. Fill that hole with something, anything you’ve been participating in.

I say option number 2 is my good news option, because option 2 is what you should have been doing as soon as you got laid off anyway. Keeping your head in the game and doing SOMETHING (anything) to keep busy is not just so you can paper over a hole in your resume. Keeping involved helps you keep abreast of your career. It helps you stay fresh and plugged in. And most importantly, it helps you network. I’ve long said that networking is the best job search method. And I’ve mentioned before that staying involved (and even volunteering) is a good networking strategy.

So if you stay involved, not only will you be going a long way to finding yourself another job sooner, you’ll also be doing something that will help you hide that gap on your resume!

As always, I recommend hiring a professional resume writer if you’re looking for professional advice about when and how to handle employment gaps on your resume.

Related posts:

  1. Ask Brian – What is the Difference Between a CV and a Resume?
  2. Ask Brian- Taking A Step “Backward” And How To Address This In My Resume
  3. Busting The One Page Resume Myth
  4. Resume Help
  5. Resume Tip- 4 Quick Ways To Make Your Resume Stand Out
  6. Focus on the Education Section of Your Resume

Tags: Job Search · Resumes