Long-term unemployment may have become normal, but its effects can doom workers because of employer prejudice. Employers customarily regard employment gaps as warning signs that disqualify most applicants from consideration. Fair or not, employers have the economy on their side because they normally have dozens of qualified applicants vying for every open position. This means that unemployment can self-perpetuate despite the best efforts of job seekers.
Every day, employers demand ask for resumes that contain the complete employment history of applicants. Intentionally evasive resumes find themselves in the circular file alongside honest resumes submitted by workers who have suffered from the modern economy. Job seekers should fight back. Applicants should use the following seven ways to deal with employment gaps in a creative and honest way.
List Employment by Year
The following entries might automatically disqualify an applicant from a job opportunity:
November 2014 – April 2015, Webmaster, School of Nursing
March 2010 – February 2014, Manager, ABC Company
Applicants know they suffered unemployment caused by layoffs, sickness or other issues that should have no bearing on their future employment. However, employers see the gap as a danger sign.
Applicants who have less than a year of unemployment can easily veil their employment gaps by listing start and end dates by year, not by month and year. This means workers who lost their jobs in February but did not return to work until November of the same year can present a resume that does not reveal the employment gap, making it a non-issue as shown below.
2014 –2015, Manager, XYZ Company 2010 – 2014, Manager, ABC Company
Spin Gaps as Relevant
People who have more than a large gap can find ways to make time spent outside the workforce as relevant. For example, applicants applying for a health-care position can report time spent caring for a sick or dying family member. Applicants seeking to work with a travel agency can highlight travel experiences during employment gaps.
Parents returning to work after raising children can list their volunteer experiences at school and in the community.
Avoid Negative Signals
Applicants who cannot portray activities during employment gaps as career enhancements should avoid sending negative signals to potential employers. For example, job seekers should avoid listing employment gaps as time spent in alcohol or drug rehabilitation. Similarly, workers should avoid mentioning prolonged illnesses and identifying extended unemployment on their resumes. People should consider listing independent study, family management, estate management and other wise terms to establish the fact that time spent out of work was positive and justified.
List Work History, Not Employment History
Workers can fill resume gaps by spending time volunteering for community organizations or businesses that need help but cannot pay for it. Such work contributes to personal and professional development but does not qualify as employment. Workers can honestly include this experience by listing work history rather than professional experience.
Attend School While Unemployed
Workers who take the initiative to continue their education have an easy way to explain employment gaps. This helps job seekers to present themselves as workers who willingly updated their skills to become valuable to future employers. Employers value proactive people above those content to spend some idle months or years watching daytime television.
Start Your Own Business
Employees who lose their jobs can choose to create their own jobs. This helps them find ways to earn a living without relying on the mercy of prejudiced employers who do not accept candidates with employment gaps. People regularly work as consultants, product resellers or service providers to help make ends meet while unemployed.
Workers should explain a period of self employment as a desire to try the life of an entrepreneur rather than a desperate measure to survive a streak of unfortunate luck.
Applicants who give up on the self-employed lifestyle should give positive explanations for their desire to re-enter the traditional workforce. Rather than expressing a desire to have a guaranteed paycheck and a short workday, workers should explain how they feel that they need to become part of a team to realize maximum potential.
Applicants should find ways to creatively conceal employment gaps without falsifying their records. Millions of people have overcome periods of unemployment without sacrificing their core principles. Employers usually reject candidates who lack the character to deal honestly with potentially negative information on a resume.
Therefore, applicants who choose honesty have better chances for finding work. They also have the benefit of knowing that they have enough personal integrity to know where fudging and creativity end and lying begins.
When cornered about employment gaps, applicants should accept responsibility rather than blame the economy, past employers, Congress and other entities. Workers should admit they had difficult times in the past and then explain all the positive opportunities that subsequently arose. Employers value honesty and optimism, so they often will overlook employment gaps to give deserving candidates a chance to succeed.
This was a guest post by Matt B., who works as a freelance writer for www.schoolofNursing.com. SchoolofNursing.com prepares students for an exciting and challenging career in the field of nursing.