How should I handle job gaps on my resume?

When it comes to resumes, it’s fairly common knowledge that job gaps, or lengthy periods where you were unemployed, might raise eyebrows – and a few red flags – among hiring managers. While that’s certainly true, it’s also the case that any apprehension about you as a candidate regarding job gaps of six months or longer can be easily addressed and rectified. Here’s five tips for how you can handle that employment gap when you’re applying for jobs.

Don’t lie.

It may seem obvious, but lying on your resume is one actual red flag on your job application – even more so than a job gap. Not only is it irresponsible, but it can lead to serious repercussions, the very least of which include not getting the job you applied for. It’s very easy for potential employers to contact your previous places of employment and verify that you worked there during a certain period. The easiest way to avoid getting caught in a lie is by being honest.

Address your employment gap directly on your resume.

To go with our theme of general transparency, it’s best to list exactly what you were doing during that gap in your employment. If you took time off to raise a family, complete your education, or take care of your mental health, you can simply say so. Most employers won’t hold this against you!

Highlight what you learned during the time you weren’t working.

For example, if you took five years out of the workforce to raise young children, you can mention that you built essential skills regarding time management and multitasking. Or if you left your job for a year to travel, you can emphasize how the people you met and the things you experienced broadened your worldview and made you a better communicator.

Consider a functional resume.

A functional resume doesn’t specify what you did at each position you held within a company – it’s simply a long list of previous job responsibilities you’ve had and accomplishments that you’ve obtained over time. This doesn’t necessarily hide the fact that you took time away from the workforce, but it does emphasize your relevant experience over the positions themselves.

Do not lie.

Really. Don’t do it. It’s tempting, but you will get caught. And you definitely won’t get the job you want.

With these tips in mind, you can build a strong resume while remaining transparent about any employment gaps that might appear in your history. Employers will value your honesty, and any red flags will almost certainly flutter away.


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