To help, eight members of Forbes Human Resources Council weigh in with their thoughts on employment gaps and share some of the key steps applicants can take to show hiring managers their skills and knowledge are still applicable in today’s market.
Having a gap in employment on your resume can seem like it might be a red flag to hiring managers. But not all employers view an employment gap as an automatic “no.” By using a well-managed approach, you can turn your disadvantage into an advantage, get your foot in the door and land the job of your dreams.
1. Prepare An Honest Explanation
We’re all human and sometimes we have to take time off from work to take care of our loved ones. To assess readiness of said individuals to re-enter the workforce, it’s helpful to get an honest explanation (within the constraints of privacy), understand their current availability and commitment to work and the effort made to stay on top of their field during employment gaps. -Rachel Lyubovitzky, EverythingBenefits.
2. Don’t Hide The Gap
Employment is becoming more flexible and more human. Finally, it’s OK to “admit” that you took time off to stay home with a child, care for a parent or go on sabbatical. Don’t undervalue what you did and learned during your time off. Were you on the PTA, volunteering at a nonprofit, traveling the world? List on your resume not only what you did but what you learned and the skills you gained. – Mikaela Kiner, Reverb.
3. Stay Connected To Stay Current
Stay connected to show employers that your skills are current. During periods away from work, someone can be active as a volunteer, attend networking events or industry meetings, take classes or achieve an industry certification to keep skills relevant. When they are ready to re-enter the workforce, these connections and experiences will be valuable, as they can be highlighted on a resume. – Debi Bliazis, Champions School of Real Estate
4. Be Truthful But Prepared For Rejection
Lots of companies want nothing to do with someone who has a large gap in their resume and that’s something you need to be prepared to accept no matter the reasons. However, it’s very shortsighted, as they’re not seeking to understand. If everything else lines up for the job, it’s worth having a conversation. Be prepared to talk about the gap and don’t get defensive. Even add it on your resume. – Evan Lassiter, Contino.
5. Show Off Your Industry Skills And Knowledge
If applicants can demonstrate they have kept their skills fresh during an employment gap with some type of training, online learning, side jobs or roles with a volunteer organization, that helps a lot. Applicants must show an awareness of current trends and news in the employer’s industry and quickly demonstrate how they will help solve a company’s needs given the market conditions. – Genine Wilson, Kelly Services.
6. Be Committed To Getting Back To Work
The easiest way to overcome the challenges faced when returning to work is to attend industry events. You will meet people who might hire you and be able to explain your gap and skills face to face. You can also add these events to your resume, demonstrating your commitment to returning to work. You may also learn something from these events, allowing you to demonstrate up-to-date knowledge. – Karla Reffold, BeecherMadden.
7. Provide Your Current Certifications
A gap on a resume isn’t a deal breaker, but I think the applicant needs to have realistic expectations about the job they’re applying for. A five-year gap may mean you won’t get hired as an executive. However, depending on the job, you can demonstrate how your skills have stayed up to date by listing certifications you’ve maintained or any ongoing education you’ve participated in. – Michele Markey, SkillPath.
8. List Relevant Experience And Offer Examples
There’s a difference between resume gaps caused by life choices, responsibilities or unemployment, and poor tenure due to job hopping, indecisiveness or unreliability. Applicants should list relevant work experience on their resume and be ready to provide examples. Employers should not disqualify candidates without knowing the reasons for gaps, and they should prioritize knowledge and skills. – John Feldmann, Insperity