Five Tips for Dealing With Resume Gaps

Gaps happen. Resume gaps that is, and they can be a problem if they are not dealt with properly. Whether you have been out of work and looking, or have taken time off purposefully, you need to convince employers of your worth. Potential employers may look at those blank months or years as a negative.

Let your resume bridge those gaps in your work history.
However, if you are creative with your writing you can minimize their impact. Follow these five tips when updating your resume.

1. Gain experience. If you have to be out of work do your best to add to your experience. Volunteer in a related field, take a continuing education class or try doing some consulting work. Experience can come in many forms and doesn't have to revolve around a paid position.

2. Stay current. If you are going to be job hunting for a while be sure to stay on top of the most recent developments in your field. This can be accomplished via online classes, membership in professional organizations or through good old fashioned networking.

3. Format can be your friend. When it comes time to put it all into your resume use a couple simple tricks to de-emphasize resume gaps. Put your qualifications "above the fold". If the top half of your resume does a good job selling your worth, the focus will not be on gaps in your history. For small gaps, use years instead of months. It is a simple thing, but it will erase any small absences from the workforce.

4. Use a powerful cover letter. Often times there is a good reason for gaps in your work history or the appearance of job hopping. The cover letter is the place to explain this. A cover letter is an excellent tool to make a strong first impression before the potential employer gets to your resume. Don't waste it.

5. Cultivate references. If someone feels leery of hiring you, a couple well-placed references can often alleviate those fears. Keep your contacts current and make sure to ask for letters or reference regularly.