Many job seekers find themselves grappling with the best way to positively address an employment gap in their resume. Although time away from work is not uncommon, it is still vital to tackle work history gaps with careful consideration, avoiding red flags with prospective employers.
There are various reasons individuals may have employment gaps. Maternity or sick leave are fairly common, as is time-off to pursue further education. Other gaps may include time to travel, caring for an elderly or ill family member, or simply being laid off.
If the work history gap occurred for an extended period of time, a job seeker should consider using a Functional Resume format. This format is an excellent platform for presenting related skills and abilities while reducing the emphasis on dates – which is more common in the Reverse Chronological resume format. However, if an employment gap was for a relatively short amount of time or due to a more favourable reason (maternity leave being the most common), a simple reference can be made in the supporting cover letter. A brief mention is all it takes to fill the void and pacify the curious employer. The specifics of work history gaps should be saved for the interview, where job seekers must be prepared to elaborate on these gaps in a positive and confident manner!
The biggest mistake a job seeker can make when addressing their employment gap is to try and hide it. Eliminating dates or presenting large gaps between dates in a resume can make employers nervous, and falsifying dates can be disastrous! Even a simple (positive) explanation is better than trying to fabricate the past, or avoiding it altogether.
Regardless of the reason for an employment gap, job seekers should tackle it with confidence. Remind the employer about what you have to offer and sell them on the skills you gained and obtained during any and all past experiences.