Explaining Employment Gaps in your Resume
At some point in our lives, we may have to take time off from work for a variety of reasons. This duration can be as short as a couple of months to a few years depending on the severity of the reasons involved. In your Resume, these durations where you went missing from employment are termed Employment Gaps. There should be some explanation provided for these employment gaps to give the Hiring Manager a sense of confidence that you work history is fully accounted for.
The modern lady is a person loaded with many responsibilities. Not only does she have to carve a niche for herself in her workplace, she also has to be able to take care of her family, raise kids and all. It’s never an easy task especially when the kids are young. Therefore some ladies made the sacrifice to take time off from their careers to take care of their young children. Their full time job would be dedicated to care for the children and bring them up. This employment gap can take up to 4 years where the children are less dependent on their parents.
There’s nothing wrong to write in your CV that you’ve dedicated 3-4 years bringing up your children as a Home Maker. In fact in many cases, this home making stint wins the respect of the Hiring Manager more so than any other achievements. No doubt the skills may be slightly outdated but the sheer fact that they are willing to sacrifice for their family shows two key character trait that is well sought after by many companies – the ability to prioritize matters and the willingness to self sacrifice.
Taking care of aged family members
We all age at one point or another. There may come a point in time where you have to dedicate your time and energy to taking care of you aged family members. This can end up as a full time job as care takers typically have to cater to the patient’s everyday affairs including food, cleanliness, healthcare and welfare. This is especially so when dealing with terminally ill family members who will require constant delicate care all day round.
Again, there’s nothing to be afraid of and there is certainly no need to hide this employment gap in your Resume. To love your family members and take care of them in their old age or illness is something to be proud of. Therefore by explaining that you’ve taken time off to provide healthcare to your aged family members, you’ve probably indirectly scored a plus point for yourself – as an individual with good morals and values.
For individuals who decided to start a small business of their own such as joining a Network Marketing Scheme or even starting their own business, this is something worth writing in your Resume even though you may not succeed in your business. For this employment gap you’ll need to give information such as what are the skills you picked up, what extra knowledge you acquired, the people you worked with and how you’ve improved as a whole from your self-employment. Do take note that you should have a good explanation of why you’ve decided to rejoin the workforce or why you’ve decided to terminate your self-employment status.
I’ve had friends who at some point in time decided that they had enough of working for a while and they needed a long break. These people then started a long travelling journey to many parts of the world. This can take up to months especially when they can roam from country to country such as Europe or North/South America. Unemployment gaps like these can have astounding impact on your Resume depending on how you write your experiences.
Believe it or not, it can be extremely value-adding to you as an individual because being so well-travelled, you’d have a vast knowledge of how different people react to different things ie you’ll have a good grasp of the intercultural differences between people of different countries. Use this knowledge to your advantage! Take for instance if you’re applying for a job that requires you to travel to a foreign country and that you’ve visited previously. You can state your experience in dealing with the local people there and show how the knowledge you have can help you do the job more efficiently and effectively.
Returning to school for further education is something to be proud of. Be it because you recognize your skills need enhancement or be it you have a thirst for knowledge, going back to school equips you with updated information and new skills to better prepare you for the oncoming knowledge based economy. This is also the easiest way to explain an employment gap.
Be sure to state what you’ve studied, where you’ve studied and how your new skills acquired are able to help you perform better in the position you’re applying for. Only when there’s a match between your new skills and what the employer needs will you have a better chance of getting the job interview. In short, use your employment gap to show your prospective employer how you can value add them.
Be it for personal reasons or religion, Volunteering is a noble cause. There’re many reasons why people quit their jobs to volunteer. Most do it out of a sense of social responsibility; others do it because of religious commitments while some may do it just to have an experience. Volunteering can bring you to different geographies, it can bring you to people you’ve never dreamt of meeting and it can expose you to the strangest (and possibly harshest) of work environments. Not everyone can and is willing to go through that. In your Resume, state your reasons for doing the volunteering work and also what you’ve learnt from your time spent there.
For those that would shy away from employment gaps, I offer you 2 ways in which you can cover up some types of employment gaps.
- By removing the month in the dates, you can effectively cover up some of the relatively short term employment gaps. Eg write 2008 to 2012 instead of Feb 08 to Mar 12.
- Converting the Resume to a Functional format. A Resume written in a Functional format focuses predominantly on the skills of the individual and not so much on the date.
Many people view employment gaps as an issue with Resumes. I have a different view on that. Tell me what you’ve learnt, what skills you’ve acquired, what experience you garnered while you were not working. Tell me also how these things can potentially value add my company in the position you’re applying for. If the skills you picked up during your employment gap is something I’m looking for, then you will have a good chance of being interviewed for the post. The other important concept here is the Transferrable Skill. Skills that are transferrable are greatly valued. If you learnt something that is transferrable while you were away, be sure to make that clear in your Resume.
The fundamental idea never changed – show me what extra value you can provide my company with and if that’s what I need, you’ll be called in for the interview.