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Dealing With Gaps In Employment

Mar 2, 2008
There are some simple strategies that can help you deal with gaps in employment.

How to Handle the Questions

The best way to handle a time gap of more than 2 years would be to be honest. If you took time off for personal reasons, for example, say so - but try not to give too many details. Usually, any information that you provide will be accepted if the gap was a long time ago. Recent gaps in employment generally require more explanation.

You can try using different types of resume formats (depending on your situation) to cover the gap.

Functional Resume- Software professionals who have vast experience in several technologies frequently use this resume style. Job seekers who have minimum experience also prefer this format. Job seekers who adopt the functional resume style systematize it by adding their specialized skills and functions. This resume style is purely functional, stating employment dates, company names, and position titles.

This style also works well for homemakers who are returning to work after awhile. Functional resumes are not used as frequently as the chronological style, but if well drafted, it can cover up any gaps in employment and can be used as a marketing tool.

Chronological Resume- This format is also called the default format, as this resume type is organized in reverse chronological order starting with job titles, names of the employers, employment dates and achievements within a time period of 10-15 years. This style is the best bet for those who have lots of experience in one field and who don't have many employment gaps.

This resume style is well accepted, as it is usually short and concise, with details well specified. Conservative career professionals or job seekers who are searching for openings in the international job market also use this format.

How to Include the Explanation

If you prefer using a functional resume, you should include a short explanation for the gap in your cover letter. Including a legitimate explanation always helps - just make sure that you mention it in passing and don't get too detailed unless you are asked about it later.

If you have a big gap and don't mention it in your cover letter, then many recruiters may discard your resume thinking that you are not serious about your career.

If it's a minor employment gap, recruiters generally will understand, but if you had a more complex issue resulting in a larger gap, then it is better to specify it during the interview on your own.

The biggest concern for an employer when they see gaps in employment is whether this issue is an indication of your probable future absence. How you address any gaps in your employment will usually determine whether you will get the interview or not - so be prepared.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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