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Resumes for People with Gaps in Their Work History

In this article, you will find resume tips for people who, for whatever reason, have recent gaps in their employment. Job targets include:

  • Events Manager
  • Administrative Support Professional
  • Office Support Specialist
  • Financial Analyst / Auditor
  • Quality Assurance Professional
  • Sales and Marketing Professional
  • Firefighter / Emergency Response Professional

If you've been out of the workforce for a while due to an illness or injury, family obligations, or the inability to find continuous gainful employment in your chosen field, you probably have some gaps on your resume. Whatever it was that kept you from working is behind you now, and you're ready to get back to work. Your challenge is to show employers that your skills and expertise overshadow any prolonged absences from the job market. As you anticipate your return to work, there are several key things to remember in preparing your resume and cover letters. Here are just a few tips that you may find helpful:

  1. Consider whether a functional resume will serve you best. This approach will allow you to highlight your past skills, regardless of when you acquired them, as well as play down the extended periods of unemployment.
  2. Be creative in accounting for your time away from the workforce. Never make false statements—dishonesty will ultimately come back to haunt you. However, if you cared for an elderly relative for a few years, it's legitimate to list this on the resume as “private caregiver for elderly family member” and include duties such as coordinating medical appointments and administering household budgets. If you volunteered for a human service agency or were active in any organized networking groups, these activities can also be included as recent experience.
  3. Put your best foot forward by organizing your resume to show the training, qualifications, or experience that will most impress the prospective employer. This may mean that education would appear near the top of the resume, or, using the functional format, skills from several years ago would be featured at the beginning of the resume. Your guiding light in deciding what comes first is the relevance to your target job.
  4. If your technology skills are up-to-date, be sure to mention them prominently. Are you current on the newest version of MS Office? Have you used QuickBooks or some other accounting software? One concern employers have about hiring employees with any kind of employment gap is that their skills may be outdated or obsolete. If you've stayed current with your computer skills or other technical proficiencies, make certain your resume effectively reflects this.

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