In general, the first impression you’ll make on a recruiter or prospective interviewer is through your resume. Extended gaps in your resume, while sometimes inevitable, can still form an unfavourable impression of you in their minds. Addressing these gaps in a clear, concise, and reasonable manner is often the best way to avoid that fate.
This article shows you how to do just that – in addition to how you can positively spin a spotty employment history.
- Be productive during your time away
Your priority during an employment hiatus should be preparing yourself for the next job. There are myriad ways to do so. You can use this time to get certified in areas pertinent to your field of work, take classes, or even volunteer in organisations adjacent to your chosen industry. Doing so allows you to fill the gaps in your resume with positive and productive experiences that more than make up for time spent unemployed. Employers are also more likely to view you as capable and proactive.
- Decide which jobs to include in your resume
You will now have to decide whether your gap in employment needs to be mentioned at all. You do not always have to utilise every job you have ever had when crafting your resume. This is especially true if you’ve had plentiful experience working as a professional and your hiatus occurred early on.
As a rule, you only really need to put down your last job alongside the one that is most pertinent to the industry you’re applying to. The rest is subject to your judgement. After you’ve determined the work experience that needs to be included in your resume, you can gauge whether the breaks you’ve taken in between need to be mentioned at all.
- Offer a proper explanation
Some interviewers may ask you, point-blank, to explain your hiatus. In such cases, you’ll want to give them a succinct and clear answer that elucidates the reason without making it seem like you’re rambling. It’s a fine line to balance, but a proper response will be enough to cease the line of questioning immediately without coming off negatively.
For instance, taking a break to take care of your children or needing a sabbatical after a stressful bout of years are perfectly adequate reasons for the gap in your resume. As such, giving an honest answer to the question is your best bet. Recruiters are more understanding when an explanation is provided as they won’t have to wonder about your reliability and dedication to work.
- Be confident
When you do give your response to the question regarding the employment gaps, ensure that it’s delivered with the utmost confidence you can manage. If you find yourself stammering or are unsure of what you’re saying, likely, the interviewer wouldn’t be able to place their trust in you either.
While you should avoid rhapsodising about the reason you took your break, you should not downplay it either. There’s no shame in placing your career on the back burner to prioritise your personal life or improve yourself. Be certain in the choices you’ve made and convey that with confidence.
Having gaps in a resume is an incredibly common issue. Yet, many professionals today think of it as something to be hidden or quickly brushed aside. Whether the hiatus was by your choice or an involuntary push in a different direction, you have the power to turn it into something promising. Just follow the tips listed above and take the next step in your professional journey seamlessly.
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