As you may know, employment gaps are considered a big “no-no” in our culture. People try to cover them as much as they can. Some jobseekers start feeling insecure about their gap extending over the limit of as little as 3 months! Resume writers come up with new and strategic ways to cover employment gaps, or, at the very least make them less obvious.
There are many reasons that can cause a break in continuous employment. Most are family-related, such as becoming a new parent or taking care of a sick family member. Sometimes people have to wait for their immigration documents to be cleared before they can start working. People decide to go back to school, start their own business, change careers, etc. Other times, we get to the point in our lives where we simply need to take a break before we decide what we want to do next.
I personally find the stigma around employment gaps a bit unfair and puzzling. If we, supposedly, live in a free country, shouldn’t that mean we have the freedom of choice? Don’t we have the right to choose whether to work or not to work? Yet, with all these good reasons, people still frown upon employment gaps and look for ways to cover them up as if they are something to be ashamed of. Why is that so?
No one will hire me because I have employment gaps…
You are not alone. Neither when it comes to having employment gaps, nor when it comes to feeling insecure about them. Some people tend to get critical of others when they are critical of themselves. Most people are much kinder to others than they are to themselves. Especially if they believe that certain criticism is unfair.
As a hiring manager (or if you were one), do you judge candidates who have employment gaps? Imagine you were looking for a specialist and you came across a resume you were really impressed by. You like this person’s background and experience, but there is a one big 2-year gap on it as this person left their job in August of 2018. Would you count that against this applicant right away or would you give them a chance to at least tell you what happened during those two years?
Employment gaps can make you fall behind in your skills.
This, I agree, is a valid concern many employers have. Of course, this concern is only valid if your gap is recent and long enough to make you a little rusty when it comes to technology. But the good news is, you can easily deal with this problem by taking a class or two online to get current.
So, how do you “explain” employment gaps?
First of all, I believe you don’t owe them any explanation and I hope you believe it, too. I know this may sound contrary to a common belief out there and many career experts may disagree with me as well. I understand, and yet I choose to stick to my guns on this one. Besides, if you feel like you have to include an explanation on your resume or cover letter, that implies you did something wrong. You didn’t.
There are things you can put on your resume to cover employment gaps. If you have decided to start your own business, successfully or not, you can add that in your “Professional Experience” section. You can also include going back to school or volunteering experience. However, whatever you decide to add, make sure this new experience includes something valuable where you can highlight important skills or accomplishments. Don’t add just for the sake of covering or explaining your gap. After all, you really don’t have anything to be ashamed of or apologize for.
Katherine Bouglai is a career transition coach and the founder of Blossom Career. She works with professionals in technology who have recently lost their jobs and are looking for successful career transition. Her specialties include career change, resume development, job search strategies, job interview preparations, offer negotiations and other related skills.
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