Time out from work is something that all of us may have to contend with on our resumes at any time. There are a wide range of different reasons why time out of employment might be necessary. These might include the birth of a child, taking care of a sick person, taking time out to travel or recovering from illness, among others. Or, more commonly right now, you may have been fired due to downsizing in this depressed economy.
Whatever the reason for your absence, you need to be able to handle it in a way that does not put the employer off, particularly in the current job market. Anything that can strike one more candidate off the list easily is an opportunity that a recruiter will take. Presenting downtime in your career in an effective manner has never been more important.
Where gaps exist in your employment history, it is often best just to be straightforward and direct about it, of course being sure to put a positive spin on what happened. If you were fired because you and your boss couldn’t see eye to eye, it is probably best not to say that in exactly that way, or you may be labeled as “difficult” or considered to not be a team player. Simon left his job due to continual difficulties with his manager. On his resume, he presented the positive steps that he had taken during his time out to find another job. He said,
“I didn’t have too many issues finding another job, because on my resume I listed the projects I worked on in my gap time, which included building my own website. At the interview, I told my new employer the truth, which was that I did not see an opportunity for growth, and I wanted to pursue new goals.”
Some experts argue that where a resume is patchy, the best solution is to use a “functional” resume rather than a chronological one. Listing jobs by function instead of in chronological order makes it harder for employers to spot gaps, especially smaller holes. This is particularly true when you consider that most employers will only look over your resume for a few seconds. With this type of resume, the gap may not be identified until the interview, and once you have your foot in the door, you have a better chance of getting the job.
At an interview, you will almost certainly be asked about gaps. Whatever the hole in your resume, you need to try and present it in a positive light. Michelle took time off while she raised her small child. She took two years out of her business management career to do this. Michelle said,
“After taking a year out when Beth was born, I realized that it wouldn’t be easy to sell this time off, despite the fact that I think motherhood is important in society. So I enrolled myself on an evening class in project management. This way, I’m gaining new skills to help ease me back into the workplace.”
As a result of her actions, Michelle will be able to demonstrate to recruiters that she continued to take an interest in her professional development during her gap, and that she is committed to getting back into the workforce.
If you are currently on a gap from work, you should try to find some constructive activities to keep yourself occupied and show prospective employers that you have used your time well:
One activity that usually goes over well with employers, is volunteering. This is particularly helpful for your resume if you want to gain new skills. Volunteering in order to add new strings to your bow is highly commendable and shows prospective employers that you are committed to your goals.
You might also consider taking a class in order to increase your skill set. Since you’ll be free during the day, you will potentially have a wider range of options open to you, as your hours may be more flexible. Taking a language or other very practical class can only serve to make you more employable.
Alternatively you might consider working on a short-term contract (temping) basis while you are unemployed. This may help you to gain new skills, it could lead to a full time, permanent position, or in the worst case it will simply help you to make ends meet while you are unemployed.
Brushing Up Your Resume
While you are working on your resume, it might be a god idea to check out our sample resumes database, which has a number of examples to get your resume completed.Paula Newton has worked much of her career in the employment industry. Her primary areas of expertise are consultation and career counseling. She is a prolific author and has works published in a handful of web and print periodicals.