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Résumé Tips: How to Address Your Résumé Gap

September 11th, 2012

Q:  I found a great job opportunity, but I have a gap in my employment history.  How can I overcome it?

A:  Be honest and have a sound plan for addressing it head on!

Make no mistake.  Whether it’s due to a layoff, personal or other professional reasons, a gap in your résumé is a potential red flag to a recruiter.  It can call into question your commitment and focus – and potentially knock you out of contention for the job.

But you aren’t doomed.  You just need to have a solid plan for addressing it!  If you’ve found a great job opportunity, don’t let a résumé gap hold you back.  Just use these tips from Berks & Beyond:

Be smart.  If you have a significant gap, consider changing your résumé format to avoid being instantly screened out.  A combination or hybrid format may be best for you, because it focuses on your abilities – not the chronological timeline of your employment history.

Be positive.  Even if your last boss was a nightmare, never say anything negative about him during the interview.  Doing so will only reflect poorly on you.  If you make disparaging remarks about a former employer, your interviewer will logically wonder if you will bad-mouth his company the next time you’re hunting for a job.  Try to find a way to turn your negative experience into a plus for your prospective employer.

Be prepared to explain it.  A recruiter will undoubtedly want to know why you left and what you did during your time off.  Prepare a concise, direct explanation for the gap.  If you don’t give a clear reason, your interviewer may make incorrect assumptions about your honesty, job performance or work ethic.

Be honest.  In and of itself, a gap on your résumé is not a reason to reject you.  Lying about why the gap exists, however, is.  In today’s economy, unemployment happens for a variety of reasons – not all of which are under your control.  So if you were laid off, be honest about why it happened.  Practice your response to make sure it’s clear and positive.  To get you started on the right track, consider these sample explanations for why you have a gap on your résumé:

  • I was laid off from my last position because my department was eliminated due to a merger.
  • I found myself bored due to the lack of challenge in my last job.  I knew my unhappiness was apparent, so I chose to leave rather than negatively impact my previous employer.
  • I relocated here for personal reasons and left my last position to make the move.
  • I decided to change the direction in which my career was headed.  Since my employer had no opportunities to fit my aspirations, I decided to leave so I could concentrate full-time on finding the right job.

While we’re on the topic of honesty, if you were fired from a position, be forthright about it.  Accept responsibility for what happened and highlight what you learned from the experience.  By doing so, you demonstrate your true character as well as a willingness to learn from mistakes.  Though you may be tempted to point fingers or gloss over parts of the experience, the truth may surface down the line and come back to haunt you.

If you’re in the Central or Southern PA job market and want to avoid a gap on your résumé, register with Berks & Beyond.  As a leading employment agency in York, Dauphin, Berks, Montgomery and Lehigh counties, we’ve helped thousands of job seekers find the opportunities they desire.  Whether you’re looking for an administrative, light industrial, accounting, engineering or human resources position, we can connect you with the ideal position.  Contact a Berks & Beyond recruiter today.

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