Explaining Resumes Gaps

The ideal situation for a job seeker is to find their next job while they are still employed and be able to make a nice smooth, seamless transition from one position to the next.   They are primarily in control of their last day worked at the old job and the first day at their new job.  For those of us that have been canned, it’s not so much the case.   Our last day was decided for us and we usually don’t know when our start date will be for our next job.

It’s an unfortunate fact that in the western world, a job candidate is much more desirable if they are currently working.   Our culture frowns on the idea that someone might want to take more than one week for themselves and not dedicate around 50 to 60 hours of their life per week to increasing the bottom line of a company.

Recruiters seem to operate with the mindset that if you’re not employed, you’re not employable.   Why would anyone ever choose to not be working?   Recruiters probably have the hunch that the unemployed are not working because they were fired or unable to get a job and thus they are simply bad candidates.   The folks running talent acquisition departments instead covet the people currently doing the desired job but just at a different company.  Never-mind that this mode of operation will by its nature select for people that are proven to be un-loyal and leave their employer when something better comes along.   It’s a bit like only choosing to date someone that is currently in a relationship.  If they’ll cheat WITH you, they’ll likely cheat ON you.   Loyalty isn’t really part of the equation these days. in the working world though.

Longer Term Unemployment

If you find yourself unemployed for a period longer then a month or so, one of the hurdles you’re going to need to get over is explaining your time where you weren’t working; otherwise known as “the resume gap”.   If you have a resume gap you’re most likely going to need to devote a portion of all of your job interviews with explaining your resume gap.

It’s bad enough having to enter your employment dates and confess all to the horrible recruiting systems like Taleo or Brassring.  But then you have to explain to your interviewer as well.

Things go through recruiters minds when you’ve been unemployed for more than six months.   “Was this person in jail?”   “Did they have a string of short stints only lasting a couple weeks?”  “Does no-one else want them?… Maybe they are seeing something we missed” . Now this line of thinking is unfortunate, but your best line of defense is to have good explanations for WHY you weren’t working.   Explaining the resume gap is how we address this.  With no further adieu…

Resume Gap Explanations

Charity Work

If you can’t find work, you might as well spend your time doing something besides the job search.   Charity work will look good on your resume and you’ll never know who you might meet that would be impressed with your skills.  You might learn some new skills too.  Oh yeah..I think charity work helps people too sometimes.

Start a Business/Freelance

Starting a business or freelancing is undoubtedly more respectable than sitting around watching “The Price Is Right” all day.    You never know, you might actually make enough money that you won’t need to keep living your life in a manner that pleases the employment decision makers.

Work for a company that no longer exists?

Well if you worked for a company that no longer exists, it’s going to be hard for future employers to verify your employment.   Hmmmm.  You say you spent the last seven months doing importing and exporting at Vandelay Industries?   Don’t do anything dishonest here.

Focus on some type of education or training

You can’t fault a person for trying to improve themselves right?   If you’re trying to find work and not having much luck, it might be a good idea to consider enhancing your skillset with education.   Recruiters will probably be more impressed with traditional schooling that gives you some sort of diploma or certificate, but other options to learn online for free or at a reasonable cost are gaining more respect.

Caring for a sick relative

It wouldn’t be my first choice to explain a resume gap but this does happen, and it’s a valid excuse.   A positive spin is this will show you’re a caring person that puts others first.  But some could take this as a negative that you have personal family issues that interfere with your work life and that goes against the culture where work comes before everything.