Question: What is the best way to address gaps in your resume? – Katherine K., Washington, DC
Answer: As is the case with all things regarding resumes and job seeking in general, my first point of advice is to avoid lying about why you have gaps in your work history. Even if it’s just a white lie, the consequences are far greater than a nervous slip of the tongue and should be avoided at all costs. Honesty is the best policy!
Another way to address gaps in your resume is to consider using a functional resume, which highlights your skills first and foremost as opposed to listing your experience chronologically.
If you would still like to use the traditional resume format, you might want to list just the duration of time you spent in previous jobs versus listing a specific time frame.
If a functional or chronological resume isn’t on the top of your list, a great way of sharing your skills and experience is to bolster your professional summary at the top of the document (or to create one entirely if you don’t have one).
If questions regarding your resume gaps arise during an initial phone call or first round interview, telling the truth prevails over attempting to mask why you haven’t worked for six months. In fact, questions from the recruiter or hiring manager can be a good thing—you’re given the ability to explain a difficult situation (say, in the event you were a caretaker for an ill parent) or how you’re attempting to break into a new field.
Contrary to popular opinion, gaps in your work history aren’t a resume’s kiss of death. In fact, they are more common than you might think. Recruiters and hiring managers alike are aware of the unpredictability of life and are sympathetic to that fact. While they are sympathetic, it’s also important to be aware that it might take some time to jump back on the career horse. Consider the listed advice and mind the resume gap in order to stride confidently back into the working world!
Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.