Many people have gaps in their work history. Naturally, employers don’t look very favorably on work history gaps. It makes them wonder about your motivation and ambition. The question is, how do you address these gaps on your resume when applying for a job? Here are a few ideas.
Acknowledge the gap up front.
Don’t try to cover it up or avoid it. That will only make things worse. The employer is going to see there is a gap, and if you have no explanation for it, that will only make matters worse. You need to address the issue head on to portray it in the most positive way possible.
These days, work history gaps generally don’t have as much of a stigma as in the past. Employers realize that many lost jobs in the recession, and many companies have downsized and are now using contingent labor.
Don’t make up some story to try and cover up the gap. Employers can see through that as well. If you lost your job, be honest and tell them what happened.
If you were let go, explain why – and take responsibility, as applicable.
If you lost your job, focus on why you lost it. For example, was the healthcare organization downsizing or restructuring? Was there a conflict with a supervisor? If so, make sure you acknowledge your role in the conflict, what you learned from the experience and what you’ve done/are doing to prevent it from happening with another employer. This helps the employer get an idea of why there is a gap and helps to put things in perspective.
If you left a job, say why.
Focus on why you left to keep things on a positive note. For example, did you leave to start a family, to pursue new challenges, to go back to school? If there were problems at your previous job, explain those as well.
Focus on your accomplishments during the gap.
You need to show the employer that you made good use of your gap time. In addition to looking for work, did you take any courses or earn any certifications? Did you do any consulting work? Did you do any volunteer work? It is important to emphasize these activities to show that you were keeping your skills sharp and pursuing your career objectives.
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