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Filling in employment gaps

From: Creating an Effective Resume

Video: Filling in employment gaps

It's a fact. That thing called life happens to all of us. Life might bring a new baby, a job layoff, a sick family member, a personal illness, or perhaps life leads us back to college. But sometimes these life events leave behind a gap or even a gaping hole in our resume. And of course there are a whole slew of other reasons that leave gaps in a resume. If this is you, you're probably wondering how to handle these holes and what, if anything, you can do to fill them.

Filling in employment gaps

It's a fact. That thing called life happens to all of us. Life might bring a new baby, a job layoff, a sick family member, a personal illness, or perhaps life leads us back to college. But sometimes these life events leave behind a gap or even a gaping hole in our resume. And of course there are a whole slew of other reasons that leave gaps in a resume. If this is you, you're probably wondering how to handle these holes and what, if anything, you can do to fill them.

For example, how can you prevent being out of work from keeping you from working? First of all, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with being out of work, no matter what the reason. If you have a negative or apologetic tone while writing your resume, it may keep you from writing effectively and from being shown in the best light. Keep in mind that it's very honorable to continue your education, raise a family, or care for a sick family member. Begin by writing a headline, and then a qualifications summary that lists your top qualifications, located at the top of your resume.

These strategies will marquee your qualifications and downplay your employment dates. Shorter time periods that need to be filled in can be covered by simply removing the months from your resume and only including years. Take this example, for instance. If your employment ended in February of 2009 and began again in October of 2010, you can glaze over the gap, simply by only listing the years. The end date for your last employer will be 2009 and your begin date for your present employer would shows 2010, which does not make the eight month gap as glaring.

Have you started your own business? A friend of mine had been caught in a layoff a year prior. In the meantime, she started her own business photographing pets. She created a web site and she did all the advertising, but her resume didn't include her new business and her goal was to make a career change as a photographer. She didn't have a job gap at all. She had only a shortchanged to herself by not including this pertinent information on a resume. Don't distinguish between paid and unpaid work on your resume.

If you did volunteer work, or you home-schooled your children, place this information on your resume by highlighting your transferable skills. And if you home-schooled your kids, believe me, that's work. If you need more information on what transferable skills are and how to find out what yours are, see the movie entitled "Entering the Workforce." Include any consulting or freelance work that you've done, even if you didn't make it dine. How about community involvement, special projects, consulting, or speaking engagements? Get creative.

If what you've been doing and the experience you've gained can be considered relevant to your job target, it doesn't matter if you were paid. Add it to your Experience section of your resume. Remember not to lie; information is easily checked nowadays. Never misrepresent your current employment status by stating 'to present' when you're no longer working there. Be upfront. Consider addressing glaring gaps of multiple years on your cover letter. Make the explanation one to two sentences only.

Keep in mind that if you do decide to wait until the interview, you may never get the chance to explain yourself, because the interview may never come. When doing so, make sure that you bring out your enthusiasm for returning to the workforce. Don't draw attention to short gaps of time in your resume. You don't need to address those gaps. You also don't need to address gaps that happened longer than ten years ago. Consider filling them in using years instead of month/year or combining work history. Draw attention to your strengths. Accentuate the positive.

If you have a huge gap or gaps throughout your resume or extremely poor employment background, you may want to consider using the Functional resume layout. Chronological or Chrono-functional formats are what recruiters and hiring managers prefer. So keep in mind that the Functional format may put them on alert. In today's economy, you don't want something as simple as the format to keep it from being read it all. Review the movie on using the Functional resume format for some great ways of presenting your information.

You can minimize the job hopper image when using the chronological or combination formats by combining several similar jobs into one chunk. For example, from 2004-2006, you're a waiter/busboy at several different places. From 2003-2005, you were a secretary/ receptionist at several different places as well. So just combine them into one chunk. The bottom line is, life happens. We just need to learn how to fill on the gaps life leaves behind.

It's not an impossible task. If you can't think of anything to fill on the gaps, start volunteering or taking courses to help fill in those blanks. Remember, don't let being out of work keep you from working.

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This video is part of

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Creating an Effective Resume

49 video lessons · 29539 viewers

Mariann Siegert
Author

 
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  1. 3m 51s
    1. Welcome
      1m 23s
    2. Using the exercise files
      54s
    3. Filling out the career management worksheet
      1m 34s
  2. 29m 13s
    1. Creating a marketing campaign
      2m 50s
    2. Discovering your dream job
      3m 39s
    3. Understanding the importance of keywords
      2m 14s
    4. Finding essential keywords
      6m 34s
    5. Incorporating action verbs
      4m 51s
    6. Getting results using PAR statements
      4m 40s
    7. Researching the employer
      4m 25s
  3. 37m 2s
    1. Targeting your resume
      7m 16s
    2. Sidestepping blunders and the "10-Second Screen-Out"
      5m 44s
    3. Deciding on resume length
      6m 29s
    4. Keeping your resume concise
      5m 23s
    5. Refreshing your resume
      4m 52s
    6. Critiquing your resume
      3m 31s
    7. Avoiding identity theft
      3m 47s
  4. 21m 14s
    1. Entering the workforce
      7m 48s
    2. Filling in employment gaps
      5m 21s
    3. Dealing with long-term employment
      3m 9s
    4. Switching career paths
      4m 56s
  5. 12m 38s
    1. Understanding resume jargon
      1m 27s
    2. Reverse chronological
      2m 25s
    3. Functional
      6m 11s
    4. Combined chrono-functional
      2m 35s
  6. 7m 1s
    1. Understanding the curriculum vitae (CV)
      3m 29s
    2. Working with online resumes and portfolios
      3m 32s
  7. 41m 23s
    1. Formatting fundamentals for your resume
      6m 39s
    2. Including (or not including) an objective
      4m 10s
    3. Creating a headline
      5m 1s
    4. Writing a qualifications summary
      4m 47s
    5. Showcasing achievements vs. listing job duties
      5m 31s
    6. Including technical information
      5m 22s
    7. Putting your education to work
      4m 41s
    8. Including awards, honors, and other information
      5m 12s
  8. 19m 1s
    1. Knowing which file format is best
      2m 10s
    2. Saving to earlier versions of Word
      2m 48s
    3. Saving as a PDF
      5m 27s
    4. Creating a RTF version
      3m 54s
    5. Saving to HTML format
      4m 42s
  9. 15m 9s
    1. Evaluating online resume banks
      5m 32s
    2. Writing effective names for resume banks
      3m 43s
    3. Double-checking formatting after uploading
      2m 45s
    4. Becoming too visible
      3m 9s
  10. 21m 45s
    1. Creating a cover letter
      7m 47s
    2. Compiling your references
      4m 35s
    3. Writing thank-you notes
      5m 38s
    4. Printing, copying, and the importance of paper
      3m 45s
  11. 52s
    1. Goodbye
      52s

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