How to Address Career Gaps and Other Career Weaknesses in Your Resume
What is career break or career Gap? Career gap is a time period when you are no longer associated with any organization after leaving one. A gap of 2-3 months is not very astonishing but more than 6 months or year surely raises a red flag in recruiters view.
People often take a break either intentionally or because of some person reasons. But how to address this gap in your resume is a big question.
- Other Activities: If you have taken a career break, think of things that you might have been involved during this time. Whether you were associated with any volunteer activities any social work, any project, consulting assignment or you might have continued further studies. In a typical case these details might not seem very relevant, but if you have a career gap, these reasons are good enough to fill this gap of time.
- Make it Concise: Whatever might be the reason for taking a break from your professional career, convey it in a concise manner. It need not be elaborated much. Do not go into great detail. Some international format specifically requires a reason for leaving a job. Australian format resume is one of them which ask to mention your reason for leaving a particular job.
- Do not include every job you have done: You need not mention each and every job you might have taken up. Some short term or part time jobs can be left out to avoid showing small stints and gaps in your career.
- Prepare a functional resume: Functional resumes genially emphasize more on the functions that you have handled across the career rather than focusing on the chronological format of your work history. A chronological format directly focuses on your career history thus if any gap is there, it will be quite visible.
- Only years not months: While preparing your resume, you can simply talk about the tenure in years and leave out the months. It will automatically hide the gap of your career, especially if the gap is of 3-4 months.
- Time away from work: Many people take time away from work due to a family related problem, a serious illness in the family or taking care of elderly members. If any of these happened to you, address them appropriately in your resume. And along with that also make sure to clarify this that this kind of incident will not rise in near future so as to show that you are now ready to enter the job world with full vigor.
- Be Truthful: It is better to remain truthful and professional in your resume. Else it may haunt you later. You might not remember the fake reasons and statements afterwards, and it may be a matter of concern. You should be able to address the gap truthfully rather than weaving a false story. If the reason was critical enough, hope the recruiter has the mind and openness to understand that.
- Say it in Cover Letter: When you have a career gap, it is better to explain it in your cover letter instead of a resume. Whether you have taken a break to raise your kids, take care of your elderly parents, in-laws or to study full time further, explain it in your cover letter in a line or two.
- Put more emphasis on Skills: If you have taken a career break, it is no use hiding them, because ultimately you cannot hide the gap. In this scenario, all you can do is, shift the focus from your career gap to the skills that you might have earned while you were working. Your skills are very important. So highlight your skills and areas of expertise to drag the attention of a recruiter.
- Clarify the Gap: No matter how awkward you feel about the gap in your career, it is better to explain them in the resume rather than leaving it out to the sole discretion and imagination of a hiring manager.
- Highlight Achievements: During your work tenure, if you have many more achievements to talk about, mention all of them without a second thought. List out all the accomplishments which are meaningful and relevant. Ensure to mention the achievements in the first page itself which will attune the mind of a recruiter posing you as a high achiever. The focus during the interview might shift from career gap to career highlights.
- Stay Up to Date: Career gaps, somehow become the reason of raising eyebrows for the hiring manager. No matter how hard you try to hide the gap or want to turn away the attention of a hiring manager from your career gap, it is quite natural that at the end of the interview, they will ask you about your career gap if it is significant.
But at the same time, a recruiter would still like to know whether you remained updated about the latest industry trends or techniques even having a gap or not. If somehow you can demonstrate that even after a career break you are still not out of touch with the professional world and have been able to remain up to date, this will have a positive impression on the hiring manager. Any day a recruiter would like to know whether they have to spend a good amount of time training you or you are almost ready to dive in once again in a job world after a career break.
- Your Approach: If you are not confident enough and having a low self-esteem while talking about your career gap, chances are there that recruiter might also not take it in a right spirit. So, be positive and confident while explaining your career gap.
- Utilize the Gap: At the end of the day, you cannot vanish the gap through any magic. So think of the ways when you can utilize this time off from your professional work. Take a course, attend seminars, conferences, and network with people if possible. Take some training or take up a freelance or part time work to make the best use of the time off.
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