If you have a gap in your work history, you’re in good company.
The past few years have shown that downsizing, recessions, mergers, and other “unplanned” situations can cause unexpected layoffs or unemployment for even the most experienced leaders.
When writing your resume, you might be puzzled about the best way to present a gap. Do you write about it, ignore it, or fill in an explanation? It depends.
Here are 3 effective ways to make a strategic decision and confidently present an interruption in your work history on your resume:
1) Remember that hiring authorities see gaps all the time.
What most employers want to see is career progression, and this helps make your work gap less important. You’ll want to show strong areas of growth throughout your leadership history, which will make a gap seem more like a blip in your career.
By including descriptions of your promotions, budgets you’ve managed, and the size of teams managed on your resume, you’ll demonstrate a clear pattern of promotions and next-level success.
You’ll find that the jobs before and after the gap are likely to be of more interest to your interviewers, especially if it occurred more than 5 years ago. You might not even be asked about what happened during this time!
2) If possible, give a name to the gap itself.
If your gap was more recent, give employers an idea of what you did to fill your time by using a between-jobs “title” such as Consulting, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence, or Family Management. Provide a brief explanation that shows leadership skills and diligence during this time, such as the volunteer work you completed or the fact that your family member recovered from an illness.
But what if the gap was short enough that you were merely searching for work? You can just leave it “as is,” while still preparing your explanation. This leads to the next tip, which is…
3) Don’t point out a gap that you can’t name.
Perhaps you worked for Enron or another firm you’d rather not name. The best strategy when dealing with any potentially negative information is this: focus more on the RESULTS you can bring to your next employer than anything else.
In other words, if you don’t have a plausible explanation for being out of work, then simply move on to communicating your unique value — and save your explanation for an interview.
Your resume should focus primarily on leadership qualities, the scope of your work (especially if you’ve held positions with global authority), the size of budgets or teams managed, and your career-long history of promotions and results.
Everyone has something POSITIVE to offer their next employer.