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How to Manage Employment Gaps On Your Resume

How to Manage Employment Gaps On Your ResumeIf you’ve ever taken a break from your career, or if you’ve ever been in between jobs for a period of time, you may be questioning the best way to format your resume.  When it comes to gaps in employment, formatting your resume so that your work history is attractive and appealing to a potential employer can be tricky.

Chronological or Not?

Careerealism brings up the differences in chronological and functional resume formats.  Chronological resumes are typically the standard format, notating your employment history by dates of employment.  On the other hand, a functional resume focuses more on skills and expertise, not necessarily notating dates of employment.

As a recruiter, I can tell you that I prefer a chronological resume.  One of the things that I like to see on a resume is a candidate’s overall time frame and recency of a specific skill.  For example, if a candidate notes that he has 10 years of experience in I.T., I want to be able to see if the candidate has worked in I.T. within the last several years, or if all of those years of experience were over 5 years ago.  With all of the changes in technology, this can make a huge difference when it comes to qualifications and expertise.

If you decide to create a functional format on your resume, I recommend that you still have a chronological resume that you are able to quickly provide, as you will more than likely be asked questions about your dates of employment.

The best solution?

The best solution I can offer is to be honest.  When you are questioned about your dates of employment or any gaps in employment, be upfront and honest with the recruiter and/or hiring manager.  Never try to hide or coverup these employment gaps, as you will be found out eventually and it will look much worse than if you were simply truthful from the beginning.  Be prepared, prior to any phone interviews or face to face interviews, with how you will respond to questions surrounding any employment gaps.

In some cases, those gaps in employment can be noted on your resume, depending on the situation.  For example, perhaps you did some contract work as a freelancer in order to make some extra cash in between jobs.  Make note of this on your resume in order to close the gap.

If you were home with a medical condition or taking care of a sick loved one, it is probably best to leave this off of your resume.  When questioned about this gap, you can simply respond that you took some time off work for a short time to care for a family member or to take care of some personal things.

If you were fired or laid off from a past employer, be honest and disclose this.  If you make it to the final selection round, there is a good chance that your previous employers will be contacted to confirm your dates of employment and any additional information surrounding your employment there.

How have you dealt with employment gaps on your resume?  Please share your experiences and recommendations below.

Image: barney boogles/BigStock.com

Julia Weeks

Julia is a skilled Recruiter with over 8 years of experience in sourcing, interviewing, and hiring within many industries globally. She works closely with hiring managers and job seekers to understand needs and desires, while offering guidance and ensuring the right fit. When not recruiting or writing, Julia enjoys spending time outside cycling, taking her dog for walks, or honing her sailing skills.