Sunday, September 4, 2011

3 Ways to Fill Your Resume Gaps

You’ve got a stellar resume, impeccable references and a ton of experience. You also have an eight-month gap in your employment history. And while that time you spent cliff jumping and swimming with dolphins was personally enriching for you, it may signal total slacker to prospective employees -- if you don’t spin it the right way. Here are ways to explain your time off.

Have an answer ready: Interviewers will want to know why there is a gap in your employment history and what, if anything, you did during that time. When applying for a job, acknowledge the gap in your cover letter and briefly explain the reasons for the period of unemployment. In the interview, you can talk more about it at length. Don’t go in unprepared, hoping the employer will gloss over it. Not having a reason for your employment gap only leaves it to the employer’s imagination. 

Put a positive spin on it: Not all employment gaps are due to layoffs or getting fired. You may have taken time off to take courses, freelance or travel -- all of which can make you a better candidate for the job. List the courses you’ve taken and explain how they will help in this new position. Talk about your freelancing experience and what you learned and accomplished during that time. Share your travels with your prospective employer. At the very least, they may find comfort in knowing you’ve “been there, done that” and won’t be taking off any time soon to travel the world again! Adding in this kind of detail to your resume will also supply the additional details that Monster’s search-and-match technologies use to find you several great options that are the most tailored to what you’re looking for.

Always be honest: While a gap in your resume isn’t a surefire reason to reject you, being dishonest is. If you were laid off from a company, don’t omit it from your resume. List the dates you worked, and if interviewers want more details, they’ll ask for them. If you chose to leave your previous job, let the employer know. You can then say that you were fortunate enough to take time off to figure out your next move and apply for jobs you want to do, not just what you can do. Unemployment happens. Being honest about your situation gives the employer a sense of your integrity and confidence -- two characteristics every employer is looking for.

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