Here’s some good news for job seekers: resume gaps may no longer be an issue.
As per the New York Times: “The importance of what are often referred to as ‘résumé gaps’ is fading, experts say, because of labor shortages and more bosses seeming to realize that long absences from the job market shouldn’t taint candidates.”
But that doesn’t mean that presenting employment gaps doesn’t still require a certain amount of finesse. Employers have long regarded candidates with long periods of unemployment through a different lens from those who have been working consistently. So, even in these challenging times, what do you do?
How to present an employment gap on your resume
Explain the gap.
The most straightforward solution is to simply explain why the gap exists in your cover letter or on your resume itself. If you lost your job during the pandemic, for example, the hiring manager will almost certainly have sympathy for you and what could only be a frustrating job search during what has been a stressful time for everyone.
Even if the gap is due to another reason, give the employer the benefit of the doubt — they could very likely empathize with your situation, whether you took time off while changing careers or were caring for an ill relative.
Consider alternative resume forms.
While most job seekers adhere to the chronological resume format, it’s not the only format that exists. A chronological resume makes employment gaps obvious. However, alternative forms emphasize skills, competencies and other qualities, making your resume gaps less obvious.
Take, for example, the functional resume. This format puts your skills and experience front and center, rather than highlighting your specific roles and positions. Consider this or one of the many other types if you’re worried that your employment history will raise red flags.
Just let it sit.
Do you really need to explain the resume gap at all? That’s a question to ask yourself. Perhaps it’s simply not essential for the employer to understand the nitty-gritty of your employment history — and you can just let it sit there. This is especially true if you faced unemployment during a period when so many people were out of work, such as during or after the several economic downturns we have experienced in recent history, including the early-mid pandemic and the Great Recession.
Today, as the New York Times notes, many employers are emphasizing hiring people with diverse backgrounds and skills. They are prioritizing these qualities over employment history, sometimes taking a chance on candidates they might not have otherwise considered because they are recognizing that a pristine work history isn’t necessarily the most important quality in an applicant. The tide could be turning — and that may well mean new opportunities for job seekers.
What's your no. 1 piece of advice for how to present an employment gap on your resume? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!
About the Career Expert:
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.