Show Off Your Gap!

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Your resume is your first impression and your first chance at the career of your dreams. Of course, it’s natural that you want it to showcase your skill and talent in the best way possible.

However, what if you have a large gap in employment on your resume? If you don’t display this in the best light, your resume may be thoughtlessly tossed aside in the first round of resume reviews.

If you’re someone who has a gap in employment due to travel, caring for a loved one, being a stay at home parent, etc., these tips will help you in creating a resume that looks attractive.

1. Don’t include months.

Depending on how long the gaps are, they might not be as noticeable if you only list years of employment on your resume rather than months and years.

2. Include volunteering or training opportunities.

Did you volunteer during your gap? Did you take any college courses, online courses, or attend any conferences or seminars?

If so, add it in your resume. This shows that you were involved in something during your gap period. When you can show that you were increasing your skills and talent during that period, it looks much better than an empty gap on your resume.

3. What did you do that applies to your desired career?

What were you doing during your gap period and how does it apply to your desired career?

If you were a stay at home parent and your career is in finance, were you responsible for household budgeting, financing, or handling investments? Maybe you were responsible for the project management of a remodeling of your home?

Think outside of the box—get creative!

4. Consider a functional format.

As a last resort, if you do not have anything to list during your gap period—no volunteering, no training, no relatable skills or responsibilities—consider a functional resume rather than a chronological resume.

A chronological resume starts with your most recent or current job at the top and works down to your previous jobs, highlighting the years you were in each role. Whereas a functional resume leaves off the dates of employment and focuses more on your skills and talents.

The reason I recommend using this format as a last resort is because many hiring managers do not like a functional resume. Often, if they cannot see a clear time-line of your work experience, they will quickly move on to the next resume.

5. Don’t lie.

Do not lie. Do not exaggerate. It will come back to bite you in the rear—trust me. Be honest on your resume.

6. Be prepared.

What will you say when you are questioned about your gap period?

It’s important that you are prepared to talk about this when asked over the phone or in the interview because you WILL be asked questions about that time period.

Don’t be ashamed, don’t be negative. Whatever your reason for the gap period—stay at home parent, caring for a loved one, taking some time off to rejuvenate, traveling—it is nothing to be ashamed of or think badly of.

Consider how it improved your skills and talent, what you learned from it, and how you contributed. Stay positive and unapologetic.

What are some ideas you have for better displaying that gap period in employment on your resume? Leave a comment below.