Plenty of professionals have employment gaps on their resumes. Maybe they spent time travelling between gigs. Perhaps it was due to poor health or a lengthy job search.
Whatever the reason, these individuals dread being asked about the periods of time when they weren’t working, says serial entrepreneur James Caan in a recent LinkedIn post.
Caan says there can be a tendency amongst some employers to overlook candidates that have extensive periods of unemployment. “Personally, I am always more interested in the abilities and characteristics of an individual — if they haven’t been in work for a while but have the quality my company needs, I will hire them,” he says. However, job seekers should always be prepared to answer questions about any gaps on their resumes.
Here are three tips for explaining an employment gap:
Be honest and upfront. “Trying to lie or bluff your way through isn’t the way to do things, and to be perfectly honest, most good hiring managers will see straight through you,” Caan says. Explain the circumstances of the gap in an honest and straightforward manner.
Think outside the box. If you’re currently between jobs and you’re worried it’ll end up being an extended gap, consider doing voluntary work. This will give you something recent to put on your resume. You should also consider taking relevant courses, Caan suggests. “This shows you are an ambitious individual who is always looking to improve their skill set.”
Explain the skills you picked up while you were out of employment. “Many people think that offices and classrooms are the only place where you learn things, but this simply isn’t true,” he says. For example, if you’ve spent time away from the workforce looking after your children, focus on the strengths you needed, such as discipline, organisation, and the ability to multitask. “If you have traveled, you may have picked up international knowledge, which would be useful for a business looking to increase its global presence,” Caan explains.
Make the hiring manager aware of all your skills, and explain how they’re relevant and how they will help in the job you are applying for.
“Being out of work for a while may seem like a hindrance to some people, but if you are positive, proactive, and willing to put the effort in, this shouldn’t be the case,” Caan concludes.
Read the full LinkedIn post here.
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