How to Address Resume Gaps

Life happens: children, medical issues, layoffs. Everyone experiences a setback in their professional life at some point. In these modern times, people seldom work for one company for forty straight years. Often, candidates will have a variety of different companies and titles on their resume, sometimes with gaps in between. Knowing how to address resume gaps, both from a candidate and client perspective, can help move the hiring process along in a healthy way. 

As we know, the hiring market is currently experiencing The Great Rehire. After two years of COVID-19 difficulties, many are reentering the job search, though with some minor changes to their resume. Several professionals lost their job during the pandemic due to layoffs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. experienced an unemployment rate of 14.7%. When you also consider those who were ill or had to assume caretaker roles, the job market took a true hit. 

So how does one handle a gap in their resume? From a candidate’s viewpoint, it might seem negative. We assure you, it’s not. No matter the reason for your gaps, there are ways to discuss the matter with your recruiter or hiring manager. 

Be honest 

The first thing to understand is that you should be up front and honest. Indeed.com also mentions the importance of where to explain them. They say, “Generally, there are three places you should address gaps in your employment: your cover letter, your resume and during an interview if asked about it. While there are ways to minimize the appearance of employment gaps on your resume, it is still important for you to be honest and forthcoming in explaining gaps in your employment.” 

Recruiters will appreciate this level of trust from the beginning and consider this a positive trait of your character.

Use the gap productively 

If possible, while you are unemployed, use this time to prove your productivity. Taking courses for new skills or attending networking events can build your professional network, as well as your resume. This helps to explain that while you were out of work, you were still striving to improve yourself professionally.

It is also a good idea to consider a different resume format. Forbes tells us, “Don’t hesitate to adopt a hybrid format that is part functional and part chronological. Fill the top half of the résumé with a summary of qualifications and a list of key competencies. Then you can follow that with a chronological list of your work experience.” 

From a recruiter’s POV 

As a recruiter, you must be empathetic and open to candidates with gaps in their resume. As Harvard Business Review explains, one’s experience and skills don’t just come from their job titles. “As workforce dynamics continue to change, savvy hiring managers recognize that tangible skills are acquired through a combination of long-term work experience, self-education, side projects, and freelance work.” 

Any good recruiter will focus on the present, rather than the course of a candidate’s career. In a time when breaks are taken for a variety of reasons, use this information to evaluate your candidate’s skills and persona, and how they align with the role. Gaps in a resume are rarely a reflection of a person’s entire career. They tell a story and listening intently could land your next hire. 

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