A gap on your resume can be a real headache when you are applying for a job. Should you try to cover up the gap? Should you address it directly on your resume or should you ignore it and wait for the job interview and see what happens? A gap on your resume doesn’t have to be a potential deal breaker for your job application. With some preparation you can make sure a gap on your resume will be a nonissue on your job application and you may even be able give a positive twist to it.
WHAT IS A GAP ON YOUR RESUME?
Being in between jobs for a couple of weeks does not count as a real gap and most recruiters will not pay attention to it or address it during a job interview. However if there is a gap of four months or a longer period of time it is something you need to take into account when you are applying for a job. But not every gap has to be problem. Some gaps can even be dealt with immediately on your resume. Did you use this time to develop your (personal) skills, get an education, or did you do voluntary work, you can refer to this information in the education section or in the extracurricular activities section of your resume.
WHY IS A GAP ON YOUR RESUME A PROBLEM?
Recruiters don’t like capricious candidates, they don’t like surprises. They like candidates that are capable of doing the job and who won’t quit after just a couple of months. If there are gaps on your resume there is a gap in the information that you give them. When your gap is in the early stages of your career, your resume will show that you have successfully overcome whatever the reason of your gap was. But when you have several gaps in your (recent) employment history, a recruiter will fill these gaps most likely with negative assumptions about your capability or your personality.
BE HONEST AND CONFIDENT
Don’t try to hide or lie about the gap on your resume, this can lead to really awkward moments during the job interviews. Recruiters will spot a lie immediately. It is best to just be honest about it. But it is necessary to prepare your and answer and prepare for follow up question, so you can answer all questions direct and confidently. Recruiters just want to make sure you are capable and motivated. Being honest and giving direct and confident answers can take away any doubt about this.
FOCUS ON YOUR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
If you have taken a time out from your career to work on your personal development you can turn the gap on your resume into something positive. Always trying to improve yourself is a virtue that most recruiters appreciate in a candidate. Personal development can be taking courses or starting a new education, doing voluntary work, starting a business or travelling the world to learn about other cultures.
In some cases a gap on a resume is caused by a reason against your own will. Being laid-off or due to health reasons for example. Even though being laid-off is not the most inspiring topic to talk about, it is important not to turn negative and complain about the situation. Always talk positive about former employers. Instead of complaining, try talking about all the steps you have taken to change the situation and to improve your personal skills. Recruiters prefer candidates that deal with a negative situation in a positive way, candidates that work hard and are willing to make changes to turn things around. Assure the recruiter that you are fully capable and motivated to get to back work again.
You cannot just ignore a gap on your resume and hope it will be overlooked by recruiters. Some gaps can be addressed immediately on you resume, by adding information to the extracurricular activities or referring to the education you followed during the period in between jobs. It is also possible to address a recent gap in the cover letter. Always keep it positive, focus on the solution instead of the problem. If the gap is not in your recent employment history and your resume track record clearly shows that you have been doing great ever since, you don’t have to address the gap directly in your resume or cover letter. But make sure to prepare to answer questions about the gap during a job interview.
Answering questions about a period of unemployment can be a bit awkward. Keep in mind that having a period of unemployment is not that uncommon and it doesn’t have to be a big problem for your job application. Just make sure to be honest and prepare for questions about the gap on your resume before you go the job interview. With good preparation you will be able to answer the questions confidently and take away any doubt about your capability or motivation.