Did you take time off from work to pursue your own business? Or maybe you needed to give more time to your family. You could even have been laid off or fired and it took you some time to find another job.
Whatever the reason for your break, getting into the workforce again might be difficult as recruiters tend to see professionals with career gaps through the lens of suspicion.
There is no reason however that you can’t seamlessly return to work. Do not be apologetic about taking a break to get your life together. Rather understand how to present these gaps on your resume so that they don’t put you in a negative light and take away your chance at a job.
Take a look at these tips to deal better with career gaps on your resume:
1. When to mention gaps on your resume?
Don’t bring attention to your past gap if you already found employment after taking a break and now are planning to move on to the next job.
Moreover, if you have been working for a significant number of years, you do not need to mention every experience on your resume. For example, if you are a middle management person and your break is from when you were an entry-level employee, not mentioning that gap and even that role on your resume is perfectly acceptable.
What would not be acceptable however is lying on your resume in any shape or form. Lying to cover up gaps will always backfire and make you look like an untrustworthy applicant.
Recruiters do background checks and verify the work history of a prospective employee, so any incorrect information is bound to be discovered.
2. How to make your career gaps less obvious?
Use years to hide obvious gaps. For example, if you were employed at a role for over a year, you can just mention the years of your tenure there and omit months completely.
If for instance you worked at a job from January 2016 to February 2017 and didn’t start the next job till December 2017, you can simply write the dates on your resume as ‘2016 – 2017’ for the former and ‘2017 – present’ for the latter.
This easily hides your 10-month employment gap without being deceptive about it.
However, it is possible that you’re asked about the specific dates in your interview so be prepared to answer these questions honestly.
3. Which resume format will best hide your career gaps?
If your career gaps are so significant that they stand out glaringly then using a format that helps you strategically minimize the damage is your best option. Your best bet lies in using the Functional Resume Format.
This format puts more focus on your skills by grouping points under relevant skills in the ‘Summary of Skills’ section.
It is different from other formats as it doesn’t have a professional experience section to give details about your past roles & responsibilities. It rather focuses on skills by framing points that back the claims of you possessing that skill.
Other formats bring the duration of each tenure into light by listing each job you held and how long you held it for and then listing your roles & responsibilities under each of them. This is unlike the functional resume format where your skills are listed without any details of the actual work done by creating a separate section in which points are grouped under relevant skills.
If you’re confused on what this would look like once implemented in your resume, you can simply look for examples of functional resume template on various resume-centric websites online.
4. What were you doing during your unemployment?
You must have been engaged with some activities while you were unemployed. Things like freelancing count as an excellent experience. Volunteering can also be listed down in a resume to cover up gaps.
These experiences can be listed in the professional experience section itself. Treat them as you would any other job and mention everything you would have like company name, job title, skills, etc.
If you were taking classes of any sort, they can also be listed in the education section of your resume.
5. Does gaining certifications and training count as experience?
Yes. If you took a break to switch industries, you should spend this time honing your skills that will be required of your target profile. Even if you are not switching industries and find yourself unemployed, keep your skills sharp and updated by gaining certifications.
It’s amazing how easily you can get certifications and training today on the internet. You will find many for free or at a very low cost. Sites like SkillShare, Udemy, and Coursera can help you find industry-specific courses.
You can also attend conferences to build a network. Sites like 10times.com are amazing to find conferences related to the field you are targeting. You can even engage in certification programs that these types of events often offer onsite.
6. How to group freelance work to hide career gaps?
Most freelancers work for multiple clients at a time. Group these freelancing experiences under one position and then combine the dates.
You can mention this information in the professional experience section and label it freelancing experience.
7. How to make sure your employment history is consistent?
Update your social media, especially LinkedIn if you have modified your resume, so there are no gaps in your story. As most employers review their candidate’s social media to conduct background checks, it must show no discrepancies.
There is no reason to fret if your employment history has not been particularly smooth. It often takes people time to figure out their employment goals and that could mean a few dents in your resume.
Forget the countless reasons that could have caused a gap in your career trajectory. Now, that you want to get back in the workforce again, focus on how you can deal with these career gaps and get employed.
Below are some ways you can effectively deal with career gaps on your resume:
- Skip mentioning a few roles if you have extensive work experience.
- Only mention years and exclude months when giving dates of employment.
- Use the functional resume format.
- Mention freelancing, volunteering or any other activity you were engaged in during the gap period.
- Group freelancing work together.
- Update your social media in line with your resume.
A budding entrepreneur, career enthusiast, and resume expert, Aditya lives and breathes. Hiration — an AI-powered online resume builder and platform to help job-seekers find their way in the treacherous job market.