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Career Focus

How to Make the Gaps in Your Resume Work for You

By SONNY WONG - July 15 2021

As a result of COVID, a lot of people have lost their employment. Depending on how long you have been out of the labour market, you may be wondering how to handle the employment gaps in your resume. This gap triggers some concern for those individuals because the common social narrative implies that the gap is a negative reflection of their professionalism. When those individuals seek out opinions about how to address their employment gap – it can add more fuel to their worries. However, hopefully this article will help individuals make their own decision and be more comfortable with their situation.

New Professionals.

If you are a new professional in your field, it is common for you to move from one contract job to another to explore your professional growth, secure income, and gain clarity about your own career identity. For new graduates, it is hard to find stable work, therefore, there will be periods when you will be out of work or engage in contract work. What is wrong with this? Nothing. However, it may become problematic when your resume gives off the impression that you can not hold down employment. Of course, employment consultants will provide you with resume styles which may take the focus off the employment gaps. But to a skilled human resources professional, employment gaps will be evident no matter how well you may have concealed them. Note, it may be time to self-reflect on how you are making career decisions.

Environmental.

If there is one thing that Covid may have taught us, it is that we cannot control everything but we can have faith in the future. If your employment gaps coincide with periods of unstable economic conditions, then the reason for that gap is self-explanatory. How you are evaluated is very much dependent on the hiring manager’s preferences. Some will be able to associate your gap with external environmental conditions and still interview you, while others will just move on. Furthermore, the candidate pool can be enormous, and therefore you may not be screened in for an interview due to other reasons rather than just that employment gap. It is not personal but environmental. It is time to activate your optimistic explanation style. Try your best to avoid internalizing factors which are out of your control.

Personal Illness.

Life has its ups and downs. Employment Insurance Sick Benefits may be available with the supporting documentation provided by your family doctor and/or your employer. The eligibility criteria differ from province to province. When you are receiving Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits, your first priority is to rest and take care of yourself. Why this point is highlighted is because of the obvious employment gap. And that is okay. Remember, the hiring committee will evaluate you overall. If you have had stable employment and you have good references, they will most likely see the obvious skills and accomplishments you have gained during your professional life. Be certain that you have your skills/achievements crystal clear on your resume and cover letter in relationship with the job posting. And describe rather than claim why you are the ideal candidate ready to re-engage your vocational calling responsibilities.

Employment Gaps – but no gaps at all.

Just because you may have employment gaps – you can be a busy professional doing something else. Employment gaps are not negative when HR and hiring managers see that you have been active during those times. Part of your time is engaging in a full-time job search. The other part of your time can be community involvement activities, professional development, or self development. This is when you may want to create another section on your resume to fill the gap. If you fall in this circumstance, and you can not financially take courses, that is okay, there are numerous free e-tutorials. Alternatively, you can engage in meaningful volunteer activities. Research shows that helping others improves your mood. Your positive outlook will help make your interview stand out.

Assumptions.

Assume we know what others think of us. You want to make sure that your application does not leave any room for the employer to make assumptions about you. When you have constructed a resume accommodating the employment gaps – do not just stop there – move on to the cover letter. Do not assume that they will not read your cover letter. Use this one-page document to address the gap without saying there is a gap. Simply explain how you used your “gap” to engage in meaningful activities. Just imagine this scenario. While you were engaging in course work or community activities – you discovered your vocational calling or a person which led you to apply for this company and that position. Imagine the pre-screening points you may gain when they review your documents. Remember one thing, your resume and cover letter is a self-marketing tool. Be sure to convey only enough of the self, to market your own uniqueness as it relates to the company’s values and the position’s requirements.
So, there you have it. We talked about common types of employment gaps. The purpose of this article is to have you move from gathering others’ opinions to having you consider key factors to facilitate your own decision. Hopefully, the considerations I have outlined will help you define the terms and strengthen the impact of your professional profile.

We value your opinion. Please let us know what you think about this column. Send comments to learningcurves@hotmail.com.


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