Traditional job search wisdom says that a gap in your resume is a deal breaker for hiring managers. The gap is viewed as a period when you were either unemployable or too disengaged to look for work in a meaningful way. The reality of that gap period, of course, is often much different, but resumes are not great storytellers. Luckily, you can overcome this obstacle to employment and possibly even use it to your advantage. Take advantage of these strategies to bridge your resume gap.
Switch to a Skills-Based Resume
Most resumes are organized as a chronological timeline of your employment history. In this configuration, gaps are glaring. Instead, switch to a skills-based resume that emphasizes what you can do rather than when and where you have done it. Focus on the hard and soft skills that you possess that are most relevant to the position you’re trying to secure, and mention how those skills have produced positive results for past employers. When a hiring manager sees your resume they will be more focused on your future than your past.
Create a Positive Spin
A gap in your employment doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you used the time productively. Maybe you dedicated yourself to picking up new skills or to volunteering with a worthy cause in a meaningful way. In that context, your gap was more about personal and professional development than laziness. Even if you took the time off to do things irrelevant to your career, you can stress that now that you’ve fulfilled your lifelong dream of traveling through Asia or writing a screenplay, you’re ready to throw yourself back into the world of work. A potential employer will be more willing to accept a gap in your past than a gap looming in your future.
Be Open and Honest
A gap in your employment is likely to come up during the job interview. When answering, be honest about why the gap happened and what you did with your time. A dishonest answer will raise red flags at best, and expose you as a liar at worst. In anticipation of this question, prepare your answer in advance so that you don’t get flustered in your interview. As much as possible, try to frame your gap as a positive, or at least as unavoidable. Finally, deliver your response with confidence. If you don’t view your gap as a negative trait, your interviewer might not also.
We’ve shown you one way to frame yourself as a candidate who is not unqualified. But you need to make an equal or greater effort to frame yourself as a candidate who is uniquely qualified.
Let us help you with your job search. Contact your nearest PSI office today!