The resume gap is one of the most frustrating problems that can arise when it comes to searching for new jobs. The current economy is an incredibly difficult one to become established in, and no matter what the cause was for a period of time where you weren't working, there's a chance that a hiring manager will have trouble understanding it. However, there are a number of ways you can present yourself in the job search that will prevent managers from disqualifying you.
It can be frustrating to experience an employment gap, but if you’ve had to go through that experience, you’re not alone. While it may be perceived that hiring managers are less likely to consider candidates who have large and extensive gaps, don’t give up - you can change their minds easier than you might think. If you approach a search with the right mindset and strategy, you’ll have an advantage over the competition.
One resume writing tip to overcome a work gap is to develop a function resume, according to The Ladders. If you've been unemployed for some time, or your experience doesn't currently match your job search or current career goals, you can use this type of resume to focus on any relevant skills you've developed. You will establish that you’re a hard worker with plenty of abilities that will only help a company. Then, you should go on to explain how you developed those skills by mentioning different positions you've used them in underneath them on the resume. This approach won't work for all situations, but it can help you show managers that just because you haven't had a position in the immediate past doesn't mean that you're unskilled.
Additionally, any non-full-time work that you have had during your gap in employment should definitely still be listed in your resume. Whether it was a part-time position, a freelance job, an internship or even a volunteering opportunity, you most likely gained valuable skills from those experiences. Highlight specific responsibilities you held in that role and mention any major accomplishments. Experience from freelance or consulting work, in particular, is often perceived to be on the same level of quality as full time work. These allow you to gain industry-related experience, often doing what you would normally find yourself doing in a full-time position anyway.
Networking always helps
The Ladders noted that in many cases, your network can play a great role in improving your hiring efforts. Whether you subscribe to publications or email chains, join local associations or regularly meet with friends in your same industry, you'll gain plenty of access to varied industry information. Publications will often come with news about the industry's latest directions and advances and you'll also often gain insight into companies planning to make new hires. Local associations are great for meeting new people and establishing yourself as a smart and skilled worker with plenty of positive traits. Meanwhile, people in your network can give you up-to-date information about companies that may be hiring, or even openings in their employers' offices. A recommendation can often make your resume more of a formality than a necessity.
CanadaJobs added that if you're still worried about any specific employment gaps in your history, you can often provide references from past employers, especially if you had little control over the gap in question. If an employer can hear from a former boss or colleague that you are ready and excited to get back into an industry and have strong and commendable skills, a hiring manager can gain confidence in your abilities and will likely be more willing to consider you for the job.
Should you land an interview, and your interviewer asks you point-blank about the gaps, all you need to do is be honest and forthcoming. If you can explain the circumstances or situation behind your gap and how you’ve worked to overcome it, you’ll prove to your interviewer that you can succeed despite setbacks and that you’re willing to work in any circumstances.