Career Corner: What to Do if You Have Employment Gaps on Your Résumé

Given what the world has dealt with ever since the pandemic started, many people likely now have unemployment gaps in their work history.

A lot of people don’t know how to handle discussing this with a hiring manager, as periods of unemployment can carry a lot of not favorable connotations.

In writing for Forbes, Caroline Castrillon shares the best strategies for handling this reality that candidates might otherwise feel embarrassed about. It’s nothing that has to be a detriment to you if you are prepared.

Be Honest

Your first instinct might be to try and hide this part of your work history, but that will work against you if managers catch it. You don’t want to look dishonest, so just be up front about it. Unemployment gaps are common and happen to all sorts of people, especially thanks to COVID. Having been unemployed isn’t automatically a strike against you.

Explain

You can use your cover letter to explain the circumstances behind your unemployment. There are plenty of valid reasons to be out of a job, such as becoming a new parent, or your company closing. If COVID is the culprit, that alone is a totally understandable reason.

Stay Productive

There are still things you can do to further your career even if you are struggling to find work. Volunteering, freelancing, and going back to school are all productive ways to use that extra time. And when it comes time to explain your unemployment, you can then pivot to talking about the steps you took to better yourself in the meantime.

Be Positive

If you treat that unemployment gap like a forgone conclusion that you won’t get a job then it will hurt your interview process. Don’t go in to discuss a new position and act ashamed and defeated. You are in a temporary slump between positions. It’s not anything horrible.

Reformat Your Résumé

If it really bothers you that much, you can always change your résumé to try and downplay your unemployment gap. You don’t necessarily have to list your work experience in chronological order. You can organize it by most prestigious positions, or by how long you were at each job. You have options that don’t require putting it at the forefront.

The most important thing is not let unemployment feel like it defines you. Of course, you would prefer not to be in that position, but the only way to overcome it is to stay proactive.

If you want more detail on how to handle employments gaps in your résumé, read the article from Forbes here.

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