Updated: Mar 19
How to address an employment gap on a resume is one of the most common questions I get from job seekers. For those who have stepped away from the traditional workforce for a short time to "live life" (care for family, go to school, travel, etc.) an employment gap can feel like a huge issue to overcome.
While it is true that many hiring managers view employment gaps as red flags, there is no need to worry. There are several strategies for effectively addressing gaps.
Today we share three quick tips to help you address employment gaps on your resume and secure a job that will allow you to thrive:
Tip #1: ShowOff Your Skills with a Functional Resume
Instead of a traditional chronological resume, try using a functional resume format. This approach showcases your skills and experiences instead of your work history. It's a great way to demonstrate your expertise and catch the eye of potential employers.
Coach thoughts: While a functional resume works when addressing employment gaps, I truthfully, always prefer a chronological resume. (I think most recruiters and hiring managers do too.) When working with clients who have gaps in their employment history, I look at what skill-building activities they engaged in during their time away from the workforce. I list those activities with their work history in a "Professional Experience" section. Did you attend graduate school and volunteer at the local elementary school? Great! Then I suggest you list these two experiences with start and end dates right in line with your paid work experiences. Using this method acknowledges the gap and answers questions that may be raised by a recruiter or hiring manager without having an awkward conversation.
Tip #2: Explain Your Employment Gap in Your Cover Letter
At Cascade Careers, an employment gap doesn't tell us much about your ability to do well in a position. That doesn't mean it won't set off red flags for a hiring manager. One way to address this is to explain what you did during your time away from the workforce in a cover letter. Be honest and upfront about what happened, whether it was caring for a loved one or pursuing further education. Life happens, and employers know that. They also appreciate transparency.
Tip #3: Keep Learning with Additional Courses or Certifications
If you find yourself facing an unexpected employment gap, take the opportunity to enhance your skill set with additional courses or certifications. Include this time on your resume. This not only shows that you're committed to professional development, but it can also make you a more attractive candidate. Employers are always looking for people who are passionate about what they do and willing to invest in their own professional development.
"Applicants who gave a reason for their employment gap received close to 60 percent more interviews than those who did not. "Among applicants who provided a reason for their work gap, those who said they received additional training or education ended up with the highest callback rate," (Maurer, SHRM, 2019)
Don't let employment gaps hold you back in your job search. With these simple tips, you can turn a potential negative into a positive and showcase your skills and expertise. If you aren't sure where to start with addressing your employment gaps or writing a compelling resume, let us help.
Schedule a free resume review to learn more about how our coach can help you accomplish your goals.
Cascade Careers is on a mission to cultivate diverse and inclusive workplaces that allow people from all backgrounds to grow and succeed in safe and equitable environments.
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