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Gaps in Resumes: 5 Solutions to Amend the Situation

Many applicants face difficulties when they start to look for a new job. It can be such issues as a lack of the necessary experience, a transition to a new area of work, frequent job changes, or gaps in resumes. However, that does not mean that these job seekers cannot receive an invitation for a job interview. It only tells that such candidates need to find ways to hide weaknesses on their resumes and explain particular points that may seem negative to recruiters.

Gaps on your resume are periods when you were not working or were engaged in temporary projects. You may not want to include this information in your resume. If you have some gaps when you have been out of work, do not expect that recruiters will disregard this fact. Experienced recruiters are trained to look for holes in applicants' resumes and draw appropriate conclusions.

First of all, HR officers want to know why a job seeker has left each work position listed on the resume. It is considered quite natural to move from one company to another without interruption since everybody is looking for new opportunities and choosing the best offers. If you are one of such applicants, consider the following tips on presenting your resume and work experience in a better light.

Who Are the Silver Spoons and Scrappers?

If a recruiter has a choice, they will make it in favor of an applicant who has no gaps on the resume, where everything is clear and understandable without any doubt. When HR professionals have to browse dozens of resumes every day, the hiring process can become very formulaic for them. A widespread perception among recruiters is that most job seekers can be divided into silver spoons and scrappers.

The silver spoons are applicants who obviously have advantages over others and apparently deserve the highest job positions. Meanwhile, the scrappers are those who have to fight considerable obstacles to obtain the desired job positions. However, the scrappers may prove to be the more appropriate candidates, despite having an imperfect employment history. These applicants are often ready to do everything to achieve success. Their tenacity is not only an innate trait but an acquired habit of overcoming difficulties without outside help.

It should be noted that recruiters may think that you are too good for a given position while reviewing your ideal resume. As a result, they can reject you. Simultaneously, if you cannot truthfully and conclusively demonstrate that you are a silver spoon, you should consider how to turn your flaws in your CV into your virtues. So, what to do if you have gaps in your resume?

Solution 1 - Change Dates of Employment

One of the best solutions can be diverting the attention of the recruiter. You can use some tricks to format your resume in a way to avoid drawing attention to the dates. For example, you can hide a gap of several months by listing only the years of work. In that way, the gaps on resume docs become less noticeable, and you are more likely to be successful at a job interview.

For instance, instead of:

  • Company Y, July 2015 - December 2018

  • Company X, January 2019 - January 2020

You can make the following changes:

  • Company Y, 2015 - 2018

  • Company X, 2019 - 2020

Solution 2 - Explain the Reasons for Gaps

Another solution can be a convincing explanation of the reasons for the gaps in your resume or cover letter. However, if your document has a long break between jobs (more than six months), you should expect that your resume may not pass the initial screening stage. The recruiter will not figure out the justifications for the gaps in resumes. Most probably, the HR officer will not want to invite an applicant who may have left the previous job due to a conflict situation or for some other reasons.

In order not to force the recruiter to make a difficult choice, try to provide objective reasons for leaving the previous company on your resume or cover letter. Given the economic crisis, most recruiters are well aware that companies are reducing staff and restructuring departments. These days, almost every candidate has gaps on resume docs. Therefore, the key to getting an invitation for a job interview is to reasonably explain the reasons for the holes.

You can contrive many reasons for explaining long breaks between job positions. They can be a downsizing of a company, traveling, working on a particular project, relocating, training, etc. Briefly and convincingly, you should give the reasons for some gaps on resume pages to remove all recruiter's objections. At the same time, try not to provide many unnecessary details. Your goal is to convince an HR officer that you do not belong in the risk group.

Solution 3 - Select a Proper Resume Format

If you have little or no relevant experience that is required for your desired position, choose an appropriate resume format. For example, if you recently graduated from an educational institution, you might not have yet the necessary experience that potential employers are looking for in applicants. To overcome this obstacle, highlight the professional skills acquired through study, internships, volunteer, or project work. For this, you are recommended to choose not a chronological resume format, but a functional or a combined one.

If you want to change the field of activity, you might not have the necessary work experience in the desired area. In that case, it will be much more challenging for you to write a resume that will attract the employer's attention. However, you can create a selling resume for a new search goal using the right adjustments. For that, scrutinize the job requirements for your dream position and include the relevant knowledge and skills.

Solution 4 - Focus on Achievements

If you used to change jobs frequently, remove the short-term entries. A resume is not a document of strict accountability. So, you are not obliged to include all previous short-term and insignificant jobs in your CV. Exclude from the list the positions with minimal terms and those not related to the purpose of your search. If you decide to leave everything as is, then provide good reasons for frequent job changes in both resume and cover letter.

If you do not do that, you risk scaring off potential employers. Recruiters may assume that you were fired for failing to perform your duties or were not loyal to the companies you worked for. If you had a contract or were involved in some temporary projects, make it clear in your resume. Also, most interviewers want to make sure you are not a job-hopper. Hence, avoid producing the impression that you never stay in one place for long.

To avoid looking like an unreliable employee or a job-hopper, explain in writing what you have achieved in each of your positions before deciding to leave. The advantage of those applicants who changed several places of work in the past is that they are able to take on many responsibilities and continuously improve their skills. Show yourself as an employee who can perform different tasks. Therefore, focus on your achievements and skills acquired in the past.

Use numbers and facts to show how you have benefited your former employers. For instance, you were able to attract ten large customers or increase the company's profit by 30%. For a recruiter, such examples will confirm that if you have been able to achieve such results in the past, you can do the same for their company. Consequently, you will have a certain potential to offer for the employer when they are hiring you.

Solution 5 - Prove Your Competence

If you have been unemployed for a long time or have a long break between positions, think about what to indicate in your resume about these periods. Employers usually have doubts about hiring employees who return to work after a long break. In the modern world, technologies and business processes do not stand still - everything is constantly changing. Your task is to show that you keep up with new developments and you are entirely ready to fulfill your responsibilities.

Your written comments should emphasize that you did not idle during those several months of unemployment, but you took action to develop your professional competencies. For instance, you attended some training courses, participated in conferences or seminars, helped some professional associations and organizations, performed volunteer work, and so on. The point is that you strived for self-realization while you were out of work. Regardless of whether your experience was successful or not, you can write in your resume about it.

Conclusion

If you do not know how to answer questions about your weak points on the resume, prepare answers to possible inquiries in advance. It will help you feel more confident and focus on answering questions about your competence. Applicants can stumble or get nervous when discussing their gaps in resumes or other weaknesses. The interviewer will immediately notice it and realize that they have something to hide, even if it is not true. Your goal is to look positive and enthusiastic at the job interview and establish trusting relationships with the HR manager or another company representative.

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