Employment Gaps

By One2One Resumes

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Many people have a gap in their employment at some stage in their career. Perhaps it’s because you had difficulty finding a job, maybe it was to raise a family, because you became a carer, maybe you took off on an overseas holiday, or you just plain needed a break from employment.

There is no problem with gaps in your employment—as long as you explain them! You can’t leave a gap in your resume because it will immediately raise a red flag to employers. Unless you have explained the reason they will make assumptions about that gap, and that is a situation you never want to happen.

The easiest way to explain gaps is in your work history. For example, Betty took 3 years off work to care for her invalid mother, during which time she completed a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Her resume looked like this:

Sales Representative, XYZ Co. (2006 – 2007)

Sales & Marketing Specialist, ABC Co. (2003 – 2006)

It appears to anyone reading the resume that Betty hasn’t worked since 2007. With no explanation provided, employers will make their own assumption for the gap.

To avoid employers trying to fill in the gap, all that was necessary was a small addition.

Afterwards her resume looked like this:

Completed Tertiary Studies, Disney Land University (2008 – 2010)

Sales Representative, XYZ Co. (2006 – 2007)

Sales & Marketing Specialist, ABC Co. (2003 – 2006)

Her tertiary studies (degree) is not a job. However in this instance it provides a valid explanation for the gap in work history. It is also a positive because she hasn’t mentioned being a carer (she can do that at interview if it comes up) and she has added skills by completing degree.

Your main objective when it comes to explaining gaps is to show that you have done something useful with the time.

If you’ve had a gap that can’t be explained as easily as Betty’s (for instance a parent returning to the workforce after years of raising children) focus on how you have maintained your skills. If you travelled for a year or more, what did you learn from your travels and how can those experiences benefit an employer?

Gaps aren’t a problem: often it’s the way you apologise for them that brings unnecessary attention to the gap. The mum returning to the workforce apologising that she has been raising her family for 6 years? Don’t apologise – it’s one of the most important jobs you’ll ever have! And you’ve developed a wide range of new skills that are transferrable to the workplace.

As an example, I worked with a guy recently that took 2 years off work to care for his young children when his wife’s maternity leave ended. He took the opportunity of completing a degree he’d started years earlier and was the mainstay of the family in that time.

Once his kids started school he went back to work. He was able to proudly state that he was a stay-at-home dad and that he had used the time to complete his qualifications, which gave him extra skills. He was proud of being able to complete the degree and excited to use his new skills. He got a new job in a relatively short space of time and a better one than he’d had previously. His career has not been adversely affected by the gap in employment and in fact enhanced his employability because of his degree.

It’s all about how you sell it to employers. So, two golden rules:

  • Always explain the gap on your resume so that employers don’t make their own assumptions.
  • Be positive about the gap – don’t apologise, talk about what you gained and how you maintained your skills.

© Michelle Lopez, Owner/Career Consultant

One2One Resumes ABN 84 356 535 910/002

E: [email protected]

W: www.one2oneresumes.com.au

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