A number of factors may explain a gap or two in your employment history. Your resume is likelier to get an interview and a job when you focus on your strengths and downplay job gaps. Read the answers to these common resume format questions, and get on track to write a resume that’s suited for your needs and situation.
Gaps in Paid Employment Don’t Mean You Can’t Use a Chronological Resume Format
Many employers prefer chronological resumes because they show your career growth over time. Unfortunately, they also call attention to time you were not working. To fill in those gaps, include unpaid positions, such as volunteer work, or any other activities that demonstrate hard work and suitability for the job.
If you can’t think of anything applicable for those times you were not employed, focus on the jobs you had and your professional achievements. The reader wants to see the skills and experience you can bring to the table, so as long as you demonstrate a track record of personal and professional accomplishments, you should have a solid resume.
Functional resume format Questions for Job Gaps
If you're applying for a position in a less conservative field, the functional resume might be your best bet. In a functional resume, rather than listing your past jobs, group your experience by skill set. Title one section "Management Skills," for example, and highlight your experiences managing personnel. You may include a brief additional section listing out your work experience in chronological order. A chrono-functional hybrid resume could be your best bet if you have some job gaps you are changing careers or you have little professional experience.
Sections to Include in Your Resume When You Have Job Gaps
Consider prominently including a table of skills/areas of expertise if you have an impressive set of abilities or extensive industry knowledge.You can place this before your experience section, as a useful way of drawing attention to your most important qualifications.
Another excellent resume feature is the summary statement. Think of the summary statement as your elevator pitch as to why you’re right the person for the job. Include your best selling points whether those are your professional accomplishments, educational achievements or exceptional skills. Use 4-6 lines to convey those highlights, using action verbs and writing in the first person without using "I," for example: "Reduced employee turnover while achieving 150% profitability increase." Sentence fragments are encouraged as they are concise.
If you have some major educational distinctions that qualify you for the job, explore them in your education section. List all degrees conferred, starting with the most advanced degrees. Include associate degrees, certificates, licenses or major accolades that demonstrate your suitability. Notate degrees that you haven't finished yet by including the school, location, major, expected completion date and relevant coursework.
Other resume format Questions
You will convey professionalism and competency no matter what your work history looks like if you use a neat and consistent resume format. Use.75-1 inch margins, and make use of bold, italics and underlining when appropriate. Let your major accomplishments hit home with confident and concrete language. Finally, do not rely on spelling/grammar checkers as they can miss style and aesthetic issues; have another pair of eyes go over your resume to make sure it reads smoothly and, more importantly, sells you as an applicant.
Jobs gaps are common, so it’s expected that employers be understanding about them and give you the chance to qualify yourself for the job. LiveCareer has a wealth of advice and examples of strong resumes.