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How To Explain Gaps In Your Resume

Jan 8, 2008
Gaps in your qualifications or experience raise alarm bells with prospective employers and require a convincing explanation in order to convince the employer that you are the ideal candidate.

Reasons for Gaps in Your Resume:

*You may have had to drop out of a course for person reasons like ill health, financial constraints or personal commitments. It is worse if you were "made" to drop out of a course for non-performance, lack of aptitude or insufficient knowledge. Your prospective employer will closely examine the reason for the break in your qualifications. They need to see that the same conditions do not persist and are not likely to affect your job performance

*Non-Performance or sub-standard job performance. Performers are marketable. Non-performers are not. A prospective employer needs to be convinced that you have taken adequate steps (through additional training or self-improvement courses to overcome challenges).

*Leaving a job for "personal reasons" could be the biggest nightmare - especially if these pertain to what you perceived as discriminatory or unfair treatment or if you had personal commitments that affected your job performance. These reasons will be examined closely to see if they had any substance or basis. Discipline or personality problems could be a nightmare for a prospective employer.

Having gaps in your resume is no reason for you to be doomed to underpaying, unsatisfactory jobs. Your ability to rewrite your resume to convince a prospective employer that you have circumvented or tackled the problems you have faced, will be crucial in getting a good job that will rebuild your resume.

*Show the time spent on the job in terms of years, (i.e. show the year you started the job and the year you left). Do not specify the month. This will help hide a few months of unemployment, though this could easily be exposed through a couple of focused questions by the interviewer.

*Have a good explanation for breaks in your education or career, especially if it was time off to do things like fund-raising or raising children or traveling. Try and project these breaks as breaks that helped build your qualifications, experience or personality, such as mind broadening travel or an internship abroad. Don't let your prospective employer assume that it was laziness, bad habits, an unsteady personality or lack of commitment or ambition.

*Don't let your resume reflect the opposite (i.e. too many jobs). Rapid job- hopping or a variety of jobs will reflect a personality that is not able to settle down or a personality that has no focus. Commitment and focus is what potential employers are looking for.

*Highlight pertinent experience: focus your resume in such a way that you highlight the experience that is pertinent to the job for which you are applying. Noting your experience in years rather than months will also help to focus on your skills rather than your experience. Erase any jobs that were for too short a term, especially if they gave you experience that is not required in the job that you are applying for.

*Highlight qualifications, especially if you can connect them to the job that you are seeking. Emphasize your professional qualifications rather than your conventional qualifications. Additionally, emphasizing skills over experience will also help your resume.

*Do not lie or gloss over a bad past. The world is a small place and HR departments tend to have an unspoken agreement between them to be honest about why an employee left. Your glossing over reasons for unemployment can easily be cross-checked. Your resume does not need to have a detailed explanation for the gap in your career, but you should try and give it a positive or attractive twist.

Explaining gaps in your resume is not easy because the element of truth should be maintained, yet your resume should still identify you as a viable candidate. Follow the tips above and you will be successful.
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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