Job seekers often assume that in order to score the perfect job, one has to be the perfect candidate. That the right mix of education, titles, and skills is needed in order to land the career of their dreams. So when faced with resume gaps, an individual may rightly feel disheartened. But continuous employment is not the be-all, end-all to nabbing a great job, especially in these times. It is important, however, to know how to treat employment gaps on your resume, in your cover letter, and in your interview.
The Functional Format
One way to gloss over gaps on your CV is to create afunctional resume. This focuses on your skills and achievements, rather than on specific dates. There are certainly other advantages to formatting your resume this way as well, as it allows you to pinpoint exactly what it is that you bring to the table. The trick here is to tailor it to the specific job that you are applying for.
List Your Achievements
Another way to downplay a gap in employment is to highlight your accomplishments on your resume. While you may not have continuous experience, various honors will convey that you have quality experience, and that you have been recognized as having done an outstanding job.
Include Extracurricular Experience
Hiring mangers understand that qualified candidates may have gaps in employment. What they want to avoid, however, is a candidate who is qualified but who lackswork ethic. What did you do while you were out of a job? Did you volunteer or become an active member of an organization? Even though you weren’t necessarily paid for your extracurricular activities, it’s perfectly okay to list them. Highlight your transferable skills here, and focus on how you can apply them to the position you are currently seeking.
Explain Your Reasons
It also works well to just come out and explain why you have a resume gap and what you did to fill your time. Don’t be afraid to address the matter in a cover letter or an interview. Hiring managers will respect your willingness to be forthright about periods of unemployment, and will be interested to learn about the creative, productive ways in which you were able to spend your time instead.
In a time where everyone’s looking for an edge, an employment gap can seem like a major setback. But if you know how to strategically position yourself and your experience, a hiring manager will be much more interested in what you have done, rather than what you haven’t.