When you start thinking about finding a new job, having employment gaps in your work history can raise a red flag — both for resume screeners and for your own self-confidence. For employers, questions arise as to the real reasons for these gaps. As for job seekers themselves “Will they want me? Should I even try?” come to mind.
I won’t tell you that gaps don’t matter. At the very least, they will need to be handled. And somehow given a less noticeable focus in your communications with the company. But there may actually be ways to make resume gaps work to your advantage. Or at least help minimize any of those doubts.
So much of job search is about perception and initial impressions. And just as in any good marketing campaign — job search after all is marketing — you can use your job search tools (and connections) to help accentuate the positive while also minimizing the negative.
[NOTE: I hope you take the time to read all of this; I know it’s a lot. But at least please make sure you scroll to the bottom for the extra hint. It could make all the difference in helping give you a fresh start — and added self-confidence!]
Tricky employment gap situations
There are any number of situations that can lead to resume gaps. Here are a few of the more common ones. Feel free to add your own below:
- You’ve been out of work for a long time. Maybe over a year. Maybe many years.
- Having raised your kids, you’re returning to the world of work.
- You’re embarrassed by / trying to hide your last job(s) and so leave them off.
- You took time off to pursue non-paying interests.
- You had a business that failed, and you prefer not to talk about it.
- You went back to school, but have no degree to show for it.
- You’re a serial job hopper with several gaps in between. (Having been one myself, I can assure you that this is not incurable.)