5 Tips for Filling in the Employment Gaps on Your Resume

http://www.123rf.com/photo_8437002_a-woman-looking-over-a-resume-with-a-pen-in-her-hand.htmlIt’s a Catch-22: You’re out of work, and many employers are only hiring people who are currently employed or have a stable work history. Whether you were the victim of downsizing or you simply found it more advantageous to jump between jobs, you’re not doomed to perpetual unemployment if you’re currently unemployed or have gaps on your resume. To make yourself appealing to prospective employers, show that you filled the time wisely with activities that have made you a more skilled employee.

Earn an Online Degree

Enrolling in an MBA online program is a way to increase your employability and earning potential even while you continue searching for work. Because of the flexible nature of an online degree, you can continue to apply for jobs, attend job interviews, see to your family and complete your coursework at your convenience.

On your resume or during the interview, if you’re currently unemployed and a potential employer wonders how you’re filling your days, you can point explicitly to your work toward a degree. By the time you finish the degree, you’ll have one more reason for employers to interview you, too.


Draw attention away from the unemployment by filling your time with volunteer work. Volunteering fosters skills employers look for in job candidates, such as teamwork, leadership, tenacity, organization and selflessness. Plus, it’s a great way to network with other professionals who may be able to serve as references during your job application process.

Even if you can’t find a job at the moment, showing that you still get up every day on a regular basis to report for an unpaid job downplays the fact that you’re without work. If possible, you might consider an unpaid internship in your industry as well. Just be sure that you occupy your days with something employers will value, and you can add the experience to your resume.

Minimize the Dates

Don’t call attention to the dates of employment on the resume, especially if you have multiple employment gaps. Drop the months and use years alone or adjust the font. However, if the job application requires you to fill in months or you’re asked during an interview, don’t lie. Explain instead how you filled the time you were between jobs, and mention applicable company layoffs so the employer knows your employment status is not due to personal deficiency. If you interview well, a prospective employer will overlook the gaps, but at the application stage, you may need to downplay the exact dates of employment.

Skip Some Jobs

Don’t include every job you’ve worked if some weren’t long-lived or you didn’t find them positive experiences. Many employers have a negative view of “job hoppers” who work at one place for under a year and move on. Employers tend to believe that applicants demonstrating this behavior will see their companies as another brief stop in a career. If you worked multiple jobs in a single year, highlight only the ones most relevant to the job for which you’re applying or where you’re sure to get the best references. You have limited space on a resume regardless; make the best use of it with the experience you know will impress.

Add Notes

While it’s not recommended to explain on a resume why you left a job, especially if you were fired or quit, it is appropriate to include brief notes on the resume if you were one of many employees laid off. A note like “one of 500 laid off in spring 2013” will give prospective employers a clearer picture that the sudden unemployment wasn’t a result of your work ethic. The gap is then less likely to hinder your search.

With an unemployment rate of 7.0 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you’re not alone when it comes to being out of work and staying that way for a while. However, with so much competition, employers are able to be picky and not accommodate large employment gaps on resumes. If you want to score a job interview, prepare to fill in the times you were without work with activities attractive to employers.


About the Author: Adam Hackney is a human resources manager.

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