In a recent study, nearly half of hiring managers agreed that: “work history gaps are often the result of recession, and we do our best not to favor applicants with more recent work experience”.
Gaps in your employment history can be off-putting to a hiring manager, and this is one of the most common client concerns our resume writers deal with. A hiring manager can interpret employment gaps in a number of ways – it can indicate you being out of touch with your industry and that you haven’t used your vocational skills in a long time, worse still in could reflect a deeper lying problem in your professional conduct or overall work ethic.
This is, of course, worst-case scenario stuff. Most hiring managers are perfectly rational human beings that just want to find the best candidate for the job. However, when writing a resume it’s always best to tailor it for the worst-case scenario and give yourself the best chance you can of getting an interview.
In a recent study, nearly half of the hiring managers and HRs we surveyed agreed that: “work history gaps are often the result of recession, and we do our best not to favor applicants with more recent work experience”.
With that in mind, here are a resume writer’s 8 top tips for writing a resume with work history gaps.
1. Use a functional resume format
It’s recommended you use what’s called a functional format: a specific resume style that takes the focus away from your actual work history timeline and instead highlights your skills and accomplishments, as well as expounding on your key work experience (full explanation of a functional resume format here). This format omits the reverse chronological listing of your work history, and typically contains alternative sections such as Key Accomplishments, Career Highlights, Relevant Experience, Key Skills, etc.
You can easily find a free resume maker online that offers functional resume formatting templates. Better still, I recommend using a professional resume service; a good resume writer will be able to create a superbly formatted functional resume that completely diverts the reader’s attention from your work history gaps and instead dazzles them with notable professional experience and key skills.
2. Begin your resume with a professional headline
If you have employment gaps on your resume there’s a chance the hiring manager may think you’re out of touch with your industry, and may have fallen behind. To solve this problem it’s important to market yourself as a specialist. A subtle way of achieving this is to include a professional headline at the start of your resume. For example:
David Jackson | Financial Analyst
3. Include a compelling professional profile
Career objectives are outdated and quite frankly, a waste of space on your resume. Instead, you should begin your resume with a compelling professional summary. This is a high-impact introductory paragraph that summarizes your future goals (that obviously should relate to the job you’re seeking!), details 2-3 key achievements and also any core competencies you have relevant to the job you seek. This is basically your 30-second elevator pitch compressed into an impressive 3-4 sentences.
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4. Focus on your key skills
After your professional summary section, you want to include a key skills section in the middle of your resume. This is where you list your key competencies relevant to the industry you’re targeting. Think about your previous jobs; what skills did you learn that can be used in the positions you want to apply for?
Here are some example key skills for an administrative assistant:
- Letter Drafting
- Travel Arrangements
- Schedule Management
- Detail Oriented
While other applicants will be submitting boring chronological resumes listing out endless work histories and redundant day-to-day work duties, your resume will reassure the reader that you have specialized knowledge industry specific skills, and are worth calling in for interview.
5. Include more than your professional experience
Though your professional experience section may look a little thin for recent months/years due to the gap in your employment history, you don’t want to leave a big blank on your resume. Ideally, you will have been involved in various activities during your absence from the work force – incorporate this information. For example, full time parents can include PTA involvement, sports teams and other activities you may have engaged in. Volunteer work, community involvement, and even training/classes you may have done can all be used to bolster up your resume.
If you’re worried about having a huge gap in your employment history and have nothing to fill it in with, get involved with some community/volunteer work today. A few hours a week won’t distract you from your job search but will give you up-to-date experience, at little inconvenience. And, there’s a chance you can even make professional contacts that could potentially open doors for you.
6. Get up to date
Hiring managers will be concerned you’re out of touch with your industry and your professional skills are rusty. It’s therefore paramount that you keep up to date with your industry; learn how to use LinkedIn to follow developments in your field of work, get involved in groups and discussions, and make connections with others in your industry. If you’re in a highly skilled professional such as nursing, consider refresher courses and other opportunities to brush up on your skills.
7. Stay positive
Most important of all, you need to stay positive and remain confident in your abilities. Though you may have been out of a professional environment for quite some time, you still need to believe in yourself and focus on your strengths. Hiring managers reviewing resumes are simply looking for anyone that can potentially be the right person for the job; your resume doesn’t need to catalog every detail of your professional career – it just needs to present your selling points, and show why you’re the worth granting an interview.
8. Use a good resume writing service
The one way to ensure your resume markets you in the best way possible is to use a professional resume writing service. Professional resume services match you with an experienced writer providing you with a custom written resume.
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