Overcoming Gaps in Employment History

December 2, 2008

Gaps in employment history can sound sirens revealed a new survey. Ninety-three percent of executives polled stated that they’d be concerned about a potential employee’s ability if their resume displayed involuntary gaps in employment history.

“In the current economy, employers are aware that people could be out of work through no fault of their own,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of OfficeTeam, a staffing service, “but resume gaps can still pose a significant obstacle for job candidates.”

OfficeTeam commissioned the survey, which was based on telephone interviews with 150 randomly selected senior executives at the 1,000 largest companies in the United States.

Executives were questioned, “How concerned are you about a candidate’s fit for a job when his or her resume shows involuntary employment gaps?” Their responses:

  • Very concerned: 36 percent
  • Somewhat concerned: 57 percent
  • Not very concerned: 5 percent
  • Not concerned at all: 1 percent
  • Don’t know: 1 percent

Willmer stated that potential employees with long gaps of unemployment should focus on their skills and experience. Plus, an employee might want to explain lengthy gaps in a cover letter.

OfficeTeam offers these tips to overcome gaps in employment:

  • Provide an explanation. Every situation is different. Proactively offer a brief explanation for employment gaps in your cover letter or first interview to alleviate a hiring manager’s potential misgivings.
  • Highlight the positive. Use a functional resume format that draws attention to your achievements, specific skills and strengths, and other compelling aspects of your work history versus dates of employment.
  • Stick to the facts. If you’ve been out of work for a while, it can be tempting to stretch the truth about your dates of employment. Resist this urge; not only is it dishonest, prospective employers also easily discover it.
  • Seek out referrals. If your resume doesn’t capture all that you can bring to a prospective employer, enlist help from your network of friends, business colleagues and mentors who can recommend you for job openings.
  • Fill in the gaps. If you’re unemployed, seek out temporary assignments while you’re looking for a full-time job. A staffing firm can help you identify opportunities. Another alternative is to offer your expertise to a nonprofit or volunteer organization. You’ll build your skills and demonstrate that you’ve been productive while seeking full-time work.

Related Articles:

  • Mistakes Women Make with Job Interviews
  • People Stick with Internet Job Searches Longer Than Traditional Means
  • Manic Mondays Are No Longer a Myth
  • Laid Off Workers Have a Chance at Getting Rehired
  • Top Ten Jobs Requiring a Two-Year Degree