Have you taken extended time off, been laid off or are returning to the workforce after caring for a child? It's rare to find a job seeker with a seamless work history, but it's something hiring managers look for. When life and work cross paths, many job candidates are stuck with a (red flag!) job gap on their resume. Follow these 3 tips to help you get past this resume roadblock.
Tip #1: Consider a functional resume format
If you are re-entering the workforce, changing career fields or have a history of job-hopping, the functional resume is your secret weapon. It describes previous work experience under skill set sub-headings instead of employer/position sub-headings. This enables you to consolidate your relevant skills and experience into one impressive section, rather than spreading this info out in a traditional experience section that draws attention to problem areas. Here's an example:
• Earned highest marks for customer satisfaction, company-wide.
• Generated repeat business by developing long term relationships with customers.
A Work History section that does not include descriptive detail should follow this section. This format ensures that your complete work history is listed so that hiring managers are not left in the dark, but also de-emphasizes any gaps you might have.
Tip #2: Use a Summary to your advantage
Generally, your Professional Summary is not the place to include personal comments and should be dedicated entirely to professional remarks. However, there is one exception to this rule. If you have been unable to work for an extended period of time due to a personal reason (e.g., you were caring for a family member, etc.), it is acceptable to include one sentence in your Summary paragraph stating why you were out of work. Another acceptable place to mention the reason for your gap is in your cover letter. This way, you put everything on the table and avoid hiding anything.
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Tip #3: Highlight your transferable skills
Even thought you did not spend your absent time in the office or working a specific job, you most likely still gained some type of valuable experience and skills. Highlight an activity that you took part in that demanded certain knowledge or skill to complete. Did you volunteer, take a class, read industry-related materials or assist others in various projects? Any of these items are great to list on your resume and can demonstrate key skills necessary for a position.
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