Don't Let an Employment Gap Hurt Your Resume

By Cynthia Wright, The Wichita Eagle

A gap in employment causes stress and fear in job seekers. You're feeling vulnerable, and anything out of place on your resume only intensifies your stress and fear.

But, life happens. So do layoffs, babies, sick relatives and many other things that can result in resume gaps.

No matter how responsible you are, it's possible to find yourself out of work. But don't let a gap in your employment history hurt you during your job search.

Just because you aren't working doesn't mean you can't keep busy. Stay involved in your profession. It's a lot easier to re-enter the work force if you keep your skills sharp.

Some suggestions:

  • Contract or consulting assignments. If you're between jobs, supplement your income and knowledge by taking short-term assignments. Sometimes these assignments can turn into permanent positions.

  • Take a class in your field.

  • Volunteer with an organization or become a mentor.

  • Read trade journals and attend seminars.

  • Write an article in your area of expertise.

  • Maintain your network of industry contacts.

A friend of mine was laid off. He kept track of all of his colleagues who got laid off from his former company. One of them went to a telecommunications company. Because my friend kept in touch with his colleague, he has a second interview and an excellent opportunity.

If you've been doing freelance work, consulting or mentoring, be sure to include that on your resume. Include the name of the organization, responsibilities, dates and city and state. Treat it as you would a regular job.

If your resume has a large gap, you may want to consider a functional resume instead of a chronological resume. (A functional resume lists the companies you worked for, followed by your accomplishments.)

Be careful -- a functional resume is a potential red flag to employers because it suggests that the job seeker may have something to hide. Also, recruiters and hiring managers prefer chronological resumes because they're easy to read and list your responsibilities as they apply to each position.

Should the subject of your employment gap come up during an interview, briefly explain what happened. And remember, the company was impressed enough with your background to interview you.

Next: 5 Secrets to Getting Hired >>

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