If there's a noticeable employment gap on your resume, you may be concerned that it's impacting your chances of landing interviews and moving forward in the hiring process. Explaining a job gap on your resume can feel tricky, but there's a right way and wrong way to do it.
Here's how you can successfully explain a job gap on your resume.
DO NOT: Use An Objective Statement
Don't mention your employment gap in an objective statement. Objective statements don't belong on a resume anyway. They show what you want, but it's what the employer wants that matters.
An experience summary should replace your objective statement. This is a list of any skills you possess that are required for the position you're applying for. So, not only should you not mention your job gap at the very top of your resume in an objective statement, but you shouldn't be writing an objective statement at all.
Instead...List Your Job Gap Under Experience
If there's a big employment gap on your resume, you have to list something to fill it. Companies might discriminate against you for having nothing to show for that period. Even if they don't, they will still ask you about the gap. You're better off explaining it yourself first.
Be careful though, because if you go on for too long about it (on your resume and in a job interview), employers will be turned off. Sharing too many details will make it sound even more confusing if your reasons are already complicated. Keep it short and sweet to get your point across effectively.
Why were you out? Were you raising a family? Were you caring for sick loved ones? Were you in school? Whatever the reason is, make sure it is listed. That way, the employer will have something to ask you about instead of being suspicious of missing time.
All they want to know is what you were doing, so one line on your resume should be enough to satisfy them.
One Last Thing...
Don't try to explain an employment gap in your cover letter!
Just like a resume, a cover letter is not about you. It's about what you can do for the employer.
Unless you learned quite a bit from your job gap experience, then it's not worth mentioning in a cover letter. Cover letters are supposed to be concise, and do not include superfluous information.
Tell a story about how you've come to understand the power of that company's product or service. You need to show your support and passion for what they do and how they do it. Share how you're connected to their mission, so they understand your importance to them. The more interesting a story you can tell them, the more connected they'll feel to you before you even meet them. If it's done correctly, you'll get an interview because of it.
We hope these tips will help you feel more confident navigating the job search process with a job gap of any size. A gap in employment won't prevent you from landing a great job if you have the right strategy in place!
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This post was originally published at an earlier date.