When trying to, resume gaps don’t have to be a big red flag. Due to the past few years of a weak economy, gaps of unemployment aren’t new to hiring managers and they won’t get your resume immediately thrown in the trash. There are a few key ways to mitigate any negative effect an employment gap might have: such as providing an explanation upfront on your resume, being prepared to discuss the topic and spinning the experience to how it informs your future endeavors.
Focus on your resume
If there’s a gap longer than a couple months on your resume, it will concern a hiring manager. Because it’s likely that the manager will look at your resume prior to reading a cover letter, address that gap on the resume. Fill in your history the best you can. If you went back to school, were a stay-at-home parent or volunteered – say that. Circumstances absolutely matter to an employer.
If you’re particularly concerned about employment gaps, think about changing the format of your resume. Your resume does not have to be in a chronological order. Switch to a format that emphasizes your qualifications and level of expertise.
Don’t shy away from talking about the gaps
Go into an interview knowing that you will be asked about any periods of employment and be prepared to discuss them. Have an honest answer ready. The honesty part is important. Interviewers have experience working with people and will know when your words don’t ring true. Many managers have experience with candidates that have been previously unemployment so they won’t be entirely unsympathetic.
Just like when an interviewer asks about your weaknesses and you’re job is to spin it into a positive, your job is to spin your unemployment into a beneficial experience. If you were laid off and you’ve been job hunting since, show the interviewer how you’ve been building your skills and networking. Show them that you’re better for the job now than you were at the time you were let go.
Along with your explanation, stay positive. Your attitude can speak just as much as your words.
Don’t dwell on the gaps
Once you’ve clearly explained your unemployment to the interviewer move on to the topic of the future. Talk about how excited you are for the opportunity to work for their company and the skills you bring to the table. This will not only show your positive attitude but will steer the conversation onto a better topic.
Remember, the best way to handle gaps is to be upfront and honest about those times. Have a reason for the period of unemployment on your resume then practice how you’ll discuss it with an interviewer. Remain positive about the experience then move the interview along to a better topic.
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