How do you handle employment gaps on your resume? Related: Gaping Gap? How To Plug Holes In Your Work History At some time in our careers, we will all have a gap in our employment history—maybe a few weeks or months, maybe a few years. A gap can occur because of a layoff, a family emergency, a health issue, a desire to further education, and many other excellent reasons. So, how do you approach an employment gap? First, it is not necessary to give the starting and ending months for a job. If you held one job from January 2003 to April 2010 and held the next from June 2010 to the present, simply omit the months from your resume. List only the years (2003-2010, 2010-present). In a long career, a gap of a month or two is of no interest to recruiters. Second, if you left the workforce to further your education, those years should be covered under the “Education” section of your resume; or you can add a single line in the employment section to indicate that you spent the gap pursuing a degree. Third, if you worked as a volunteer or consultant during the gap, by all means include that information. Volunteer and consulting work is work. Finally, you may want to explain a gap in your cover letter or e-mail. The explanation should be very brief, no more than one sentence. Recruiters do not need details about your family, health, or other issues. If asked about the gap during a job interview, use the same brief explanation. You want to convey that the situation is over and you are focused on rejoining the workforce. This post was originally published at an earlier date.
How do you address consulting or self-employed jobs on your resume? These days, many people work for at least part of their careers in contract, self-employed, or consultant jobs. But could these jobs hurt your resume? Though each job may be short in duration and there may be many of them, they don’t represent “job hopping” in the traditional sense. Consultant, self-employment, and contract jobs are supposed to be short-term and are supposed to involve many different clients. However, if you list each employer separately and your work for each only lasts a month or two, your resume will give the impression you do jump from job to job. You do not want that to happen. Instead, group all of your contract or consulting clients under a single category. For example, Contract Positions or Consulting. Each employer then becomes a separate bullet point under that category. Another approach, particularly if you are self-employed, is to provide an overall company name for yourself; a freelance web designer might call himself “ABC Web Design.” Your company is treated like any other company on the resume and your position is (for example) founder and president.
Many job seekers look for full-time employment after spending a year or more at temporary or part-time jobs, sometimes working for several different agencies or volunteering their services. On their resume, they worry these experiences make them seem like job hoppers or undesirable full-time employees. In fact, part-time, temporary or volunteer work, especially work in your field or that keeps your skills fresh, shows your dedication and flexibility. It may broaden your appeal to companies in industries you never considered before if you include them the right way on your resume. In your resume, group these jobs under one title to create a unified history. Perhaps you’ve worked at several part-time jobs in restaurants as a waiter; you could group that experience under Part-Time Work in Restaurant Industry. If you worked for a temporary or contract agency, list the companies you worked for under your group title (Contract Engineer)—not the agencies. The experience you are highlighting is the valuable experience of working for multiple industries. You might be able to group your temporary, contract or part-time jobs as Freelance or Consulting Positions. You are contributing your job skills in exactly that way: you go from one company to the next, complete each job efficiently and then move on again. As for volunteer positions, companies are very aware of the leadership skills, teamwork and commitment that volunteer work requires. Create a section of your resume for Community Service and give yourself credit. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
I get at least a dozen e-mails each month from people asking for my advice on whether they should become a consultant. Becoming a consultant isn’t as easy as it sounds. Or, should I say, while it’s easy to call yourself a consultant, the likelyhood of you becoming a successful consultant is not that great. There are definite perceived pros and cons to becoming a consultant (watch the video above where we highlight how consultants are viewed these days.) Now, even though the statistics indicate many will fail at becoming a consultant, my response to these folks is always, “Yes.” I actually think everyone should try at least once in their career to be a consultant. Why? It shows you have just what it takes to run a business - a business-of-one to be exact. And, I think it’s a must-do these days since, in reality, we are all businesses-of-one. Gone are the days where we work for a company for 20 years, get a gold watch and a retirement package. Today, EVERY job is temporary. Which means, your current employer is your client - and they could drop you at any time. So, when we decide to take control and determine our expertise and how we could use it towards becoming a consultant, we also start to recognize how to manage our careers like a business. And that is one of the most valuable things you can do to stay employable today. Does that mean you should quit your day job and become a consultant immediately? Not at all! Instead, you need to plan carefully and follow six steps to becoming a consultant. (If you sign up for a membership to CareerHMO, you can see my full tutorial on becoming a consultant.) Becoming a consultant (or at least trying to become one) has enormous upside. And, if you do it carefully, you can minimize the risk and improve the rewards!