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Handling Employment Gaps on Resume


This posting is a guest entry from the Career Doctor, Randall S. Hansen, PhD: Jim writes: I was wondering if you could advise me on how best to prepare a resume when you have gaps in employment so as not to magnify the gaps and disadvantage yourself.
The Career Doctor responds: Let me start by saying you are wise to think about this issue. A resume is basically a marketing tool whose purpose is to help get you an interview. Thus, given this focus as a marketing tool, your goal in writing a resume is to make it a positive and informative selling tool. There are two basic formats for resumes: chronological and functional. The typical resume is a chronological one, which shows your employment history starting with the most current and working backward. This type of resume works best when you have a specific career path and each of your jobs shows progression along that career path. The functional resume is often used when you have employment gaps or when you are trying to make a change from one field to another and you want to emphasize your transferable skills, not your old career path. Consider trying a functional resume, or better yet, a chrono-functional resume organized around skills clusters but including a bare-bones job history. Sit down and analyze the key skills you have developed and honed from your previous employment and use these skills sets for the bulk of your resume. Toward the end of your resume show an employment history, but you can do it in such a way as to de-emphasize the gaps. Note that even chrono-functional resumes carry some risk as many employers and recruiters don’t like them and suspect the job-seeker is hiding something. It’s best to experiment with a chrono-functional version, but be prepared to return to the chronological format if the chrono-functional doesn’t seem to be working for you. And please be prepared to answer the question at the interview. Employers will want to know why there were gaps. Finally, to get more information, links, and books about resumes, please visit Quintessential Careers: Resume Resources.