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Career gaps in resume? 3 ways to explain it

Career gaps in resume

While many recruiters will notice career gaps in resume documents, it’s not as severe as you might think at first. The chances are that you’re sensitive to it if you think it shows you’re not stable when it comes to working but the reality is that taking time off happens to most of us, whether it’s taking care of a sick family member or becoming a parent. Or, maybe you took a break to travel. Whatever the reason, the key is to explain those employment gaps effectively, from the resume to the job interview. Here’s guest writer Adyta with 3 ways to do exactly that.

Be honest during the interview

If you have an employment gap, expect a hiring manager to ask about it. Prepare for the questions rather than hoping they won’t inquire.

It makes sense that they’ll ask you as you are a candidate going up against others who might have more recent experience than you that relates to the job opening. Plus, it’s natural to wonder if you’ll take a period off work after they hire you too.

So, be honest and upfront when the question of “why did you take time off work?” comes up in an interview. But there’s no reason to go into elaborate details; provide an explanation and then describe how your skills apply to the job position at hand.

Furthermore, it could be that your time away from the employment sector has lent itself to developing new abilities for you, such as the clear communication you develop through motherhood. In this case, concealing career gaps in your resume isn’t advisable and actually does you a disservice.

Thus, when applying for a new job, honesty is key. Don’t make the mistake of hiding months or even years of unemployment because eventually, a prospective employer will find out. It could be through a DBS check or another means that the info comes out and then they’ll wonder what else you’re hiding from them. Then you might lose your call for the next round in the hiring process.

Explaining career gaps in a resume: What to write

As said in the previous section, as the adage goes, honesty is the best policy. This point applies not only to the interview but also to how you organize the resume itself and write the cover letter.

So, here are two things you can do:

  1. Write a skill-centric resume
  2. Write a cover letter and send it alongside your resume

1. Write a skill-based resume

Usually, recruiters take career gaps as red flags due to the suspicion that a candidate can desert the position at any time. If the candidate at hand were to do so, that would lead to financial and work loss for a company.

This fear is not without merit. However, it’s not completely logical either.

At the end of the day, your skills and the value you can deliver using your skills are what matters to an HR manager in the long run. The person doing the hiring cannot afford to make the mistake of dismissing highly talented professionals just because they have a career gap.

Doing something as simple as structuring your resume using the functional format can help you shift the focus away from your career gaps to your professional qualities and skill-sets. All without you having to lie.

In simple words, a functional format is a skill-based resume format. Using this format, your skills become the highlight of your resume vis-a-vis a conventional reverse-chronological resume, which focuses more on the timeline of your professional life.

2. Explain your absence using a cover letter

Something as simple as a cover letter can help you justify the gaps in your work life that can’t be explained away in a resume. Writing a cover letter that describes why you needed to take the time off, and sending it alongside your resume, can help you explain your work absence well.

Thus, here’s great advice:

Write a cover letter and make it as humane as possible. Here’s an example:

July 2018 – January 2019

I had a horrific accident that left me bedridden for more than six months. After several rounds of physiotherapy, I was able to resume my normal activities and get back to my job and responsibilities.

Conclusions on your career gap in the resume

Here’s a quick summary of the key points:

  • Don’t try to hide career gaps because eventually, a manager will figure it out
  • Use a functional resume format to show your career gaps in your resume in the best light possible
  • Answer confidently when an interviewer asks about the long break from employment

Tackle the questions asked by the hiring manager without losing your nerve. Be sincere and logically explain the reason for your work absence.

Having a career gap is not a crime, and acting like a terrified criminal will do more harm than good. So the advice to you is this: collaborate with the recruiter with full confidence and answer their questions as honestly as possible.

Generally, it’s advisable to treat employment gaps with great tact and delicacy if your plan is to rejoin the workforce permanently. Now you have all the info necessary to manage any career gaps in your resume and explain them away while hunting for a job.

About today’s writer

On a quest to help professionals across the world land their dream jobs, Aditya Sharma lives and breathes Hiration — an AI-powered online resume builder and platform to help job-seekers find their way in the treacherous job market — where he’s a Co-Founder and the unofficial CPO (Chief Problem-solving Officer). He likes to code away his days and nights when he’s not busy disrupting the career space.

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