Keeping one’s resume updated is necessary for all professionals, even if they are not actively looking for a job. Maintaining a good record of your employment history may come in handy in the future, perhaps if you’re up for promotion or interested in trying out another source of income. But for active jobseekers like yourself, updating your resume is compulsory, so your prospective employer has a good idea of your employment timeline.
However, what can be worrisome is if there are gaps in your resume. Potential employers might question a considerable time when you were not employed. Listed below are some ways to handle gaps in resumes and what to do when faced with being questioned by such during job applications.
Do employers really care if there are gaps in their applicants’ resumes?
Yes, they do, and they will take their time to ensure you are not pulling anyone’s leg. Gaps can be telltale signs about their future employees and how they value professional commitments. In efforts to get to know potential hires, managers and recruitment agents will be keen to have you explain these gaps. They may take these gaps as significant events with your employment journey, such as:
- Bad experiences with past organization. Gaps in resumes purposely excluded can be a means to hide one’s bad performance at a previous organization. Maybe the applicant was expelled for uncouth behavior or less than par productivity. By not mentioning it in the resume, the employer won’t even have a chance to contact somebody from that past organization. But this gap in your employment will surely raise an eyebrow with whoever can identify it.
- Significant life events. There is a long list of possible life events that an applicant may have gone through that caused them not to be employed for a long time. Some of these include having a child (taking maternity or paternity leave), getting married, change in living locations, and so forth. These are rather easy for the applicant to explain and can be mentioned in the job interview.
- Taking time to study. Pursuing further studies may entail somebody quitting their job, which can cause a considerable gap in their work history. Especially for jobs in academia, this particular reason for not being employed for some time would mean the person was working to build their theoretical understanding of their profession.However, consider that employers will dig deep into this particular reason. Have you completed the degree you are studying? Will you still be able to study while employed? These questions may come flying to you during the interview, so be prepared with answers, at least general plans on how to continue studying.
- Pandemic. For more recent gaps, employers will be more than understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic halted your employment history in the past years. Whether your organization had to lay off workers or the pandemic was a significantly trying time for your mental health, hiring organizations will be compassionate in understanding gaps in your resume within the recent two years.
What should you NOT do when it comes to gaps in resumes?
In a state of panic or desperation to grab a dream job, you may find yourself trying to make your professional image a lot better by thinking of those employment gaps. The best advice you get about these gaps is to not do anything to seemingly put a patch on them, like:
- Lying about your employment gap. This is an absolute no-no. Employers will do a background check and will come to find that you padded your resume. Any organization would be hesitant to hire a dishonest candidate.
- Hide them off through how dates are written. A six-month unemployment gap can easily be hidden by using years (e.g. 2010 – 2011) to explain your work history, and not a month-plus-year format (e.g. March 2010 – January 2011). This kind of date formatting will appear sketchy and will bite you back when potential employers do background checks with your previous organizations.
Know how to talk about gaps in employment and make good sense of them.
Handle those gaps well, be it how they are represented in your resume or when interviewers are to ask about that period in your employment history:
- Ask first: are they really significant gaps? Gaps that happened seven to ten years ago aren’t really that relevant anymore. The effect of these gaps may have lapsed already, and you have probably recovered from them by now. In this regard, no need to include them.
- Be honest. There is no other way to handle gaps in your resume than simply explaining them. A good way to elaborate on your gaps is by writing a cover letter. Many applicants opt to submit a cover letter to briefly introduce themselves to the organization they wish to be employed at. This is where you can briefly mention the gap in your resume.An explanation can go like this: “Last September 2021 to March 2022 was a particularly difficult time for me career-wise, and I was unemployed due to the pandemic.” A simple yet straightforward input like this already saves you the agony of having to explain the gap.
- Think about what you can say about the gaps during your interview. Then again, it’s highly possible that you will be asked to elaborate on these gaps in your resume through the job interview. Be open about them and let your interviewer ask further about what kept you busy during those gap months. Your hiring organization will appreciate your honesty.
- Make up for your gaps through other information in your resume. Still opting to put your employment gap in your cover letter doesn’t mean you can’t draw away attention from it. Talk more about your skills and capabilities. Put a spotlight on them in your cover letter, and make sure to have listed them properly in the resume. While you won’t know yet if your gaps can affect your chances to get hired, find ways to highlight your best features as a professional through the resume or cover letter.
NO MORE EMPLOYMENT GAPS WITH AGILE WORKPLACE STAFFING.
Here at Agile Workplace Staffing, we will be happy to assist you in finding your next job, whether you are in a state of unemployment or not. We will do our best to partner the right applicants with their most appropriate organizations. Our customer-centric approach empowers job seekers as they scour employment options in life sciences, technology and IT, and engineering.
Landing your dream job is not the end of your relationship with us here at Agile. We will help you in building a path towards your goals, as we are your strategic career partners.
Contact us now to start a meaningful professional journey.