Career Break: How to Use Your Resume to Get Back In the Game


If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines for a while or taking a professional break, you’ll need a resume that can help you get back on the carousel exactly where you got off. Whatever the reasons for your temporary departure from the workplace— child rearing , travel, education, medical issues, or anything else—you’ll need to reassure employers that you’re back on track and ready to take up the same level of responsibility you successfully handled before you left, if not more. Here are a few ways you can use your resume to make this point clear.

1. Let your cover letter do the heavy lifting

Use your cover letter to explain the gaps that may appear in your resume’s work history, and explain the reasons why you stepped off the grid (if you choose to explain this—you don’t have to). You can also use the tone and details of your letter to explain how excited you are to return to the industry you left and how your time away has provided you with motivation, inspiration, fresh ideas, or new perspective.

2. Explain your gap in your summary.

In the summary section that appears at the top of your resume, address your departure from the workplace with one or two lines that will allay the questions that will arise when your readers take a close look at your employment dates. Get this confusion out of the way from the start. But don’t focus your summary on your gap—focus on your return and emphasize what you have to offer to potential employers, gap or no gap.

3. Arrange your work history by relevance, not chronology.

There’s no rule that says your work history has to begin with your most recent position and move back chronologically through time. If this organizational format doesn’t work for you, or draws too much attention to the year (or ten) that you spent away from the workforce), don’t use it. Instead, list your previous positions in order of their relevance to the job at hand.

4. Research will help.

So…how can you tell which positions will be the most relevant? Aggressively research the company and investigate the position and you’ll gain some insights that can help you do this. Learn as much as you can about the technical skills this job will require and the kind of cultural attributes that can help you thrive in this role. Study the company’s most important clients and previous contracts and see how they align with the work you’ve completed and the employers you’ve served in the past.

5. Show employers (don’t just tell them) that you’ve been keeping up with changes in the industry.

Along with the information you present under each of your resume subheadings, offer links to sites and profiles that will show how well you’ve kept up with the evolution of your field. If you’ve contributed guest articles to relevant blogs, or participated in open source communities, or added insights to industry-related re-tweets, provide links within the text of your resume that will lead employers to your proudest feeds, posts, and contributions.

Familiarize Yourself with Modern Resume Standards

While you’re catching up with your industry and impressing employers will your resilience, make sure your resume falls in line with current professional job market standards and trends. Visit LivCareer for personal guidance and resume samples that can keep you on track. 

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