Especially during economic climates where unemployment is up and job searches are drawn out, many people look for ways to cover up or explain employment gaps on their resumes. While sometimes a quick formatting change can downplay these lapses, other times it is best to explain them outright. Here are a couple tips on how to de-emphasize those months—or years—without work.
Include Unpaid Work & Continuing Education
Is that gap really a gap? Even if you weren’t a paid employee, you can include positions that you held and activities you were involved in such as volunteer, freelance or consulting work during your employment break on your resume. You may have gained great skills and experience from them that will put you ahead of the pack when vying for a new position.
Many people go back to school to keep updated on latest practices or technologies during their job search. If you took classes in your time off, you can include these in the education section of your resume.
List Years of Employment
If a gap in your employment history will not affect your ability to perform in a certain position well, and especially if you have been spending your “down-time” in resume-boosting activities, a change of formatting can take attention away off months spent out of work. If you’ve spent over a year at past companies, it is perfectly acceptable to list dates of employment by year instead of month/year. By doing so, you won’t accentuate those lapses between jobs and send a red-flag to potential employers. Plus, many hiring managers may appreciate the streamlined look of your resume.
Tell the Truth
If there is an obvious break in your employment (such as time off to care for a sick relative, to raise children, medical reasons, etc.), you can use your cover letter to explain your situation.
Whatever you do, don’t lie about it!