Resume gaps are common right now, given the difficulties in the job market this past couple of years. But while more employers may be more open to hiring candidates with gaps in their resume, that hesitation should be mitigated in the interview process. You want to reassure hiring managers that you were moving forward intentionally in your career, even with a gap here and there. Here is how you can tackle this in an interview setting.
Address Red Flags Head On
While employers are always open to hiring people with different backgrounds and experiences so long as they are the right fit for the team, there are certain red flags that can make it tough to get past the resume phase. But if you address red flags head-on, as soon as possible, and with honesty and an understanding of the employer’s concerns, that will help you get more than just your foot in the door. Some red flags to be aware of include work gaps, bouncing from job to job, or getting fired. Do what you can to reassure future employers that you are looking for a long-term commitment, and they will be more confident in spending the time to learn about you and what you can do for the company.
Be Honest but Strategic
Lying on a resume or in an interview is never a good option as employers will inevitably find you out. This includes listing work or experience out of order, or that never took place. So resist the temptation to fill in gaps in your resume unless you have actual work experience during those times. Keep in mind that background checks and reference checks are standard and likely to reveal any misinformation you may have. It is far better to be open and upfront about gaps on your resume than to be found out and develop a bad reputation.
Feature Short Term Projects and Temp Work
The trouble with gaps in your work history is that they can lead to questions that distract from your qualifications. If you purposefully took some time off for school or family, it is worth considering stating as much right there in the interview. This clarifies your leave of absence from the workforce and helps employers understand your work history better. If the leave was unplanned, but you took various actions to prepare yourself to return to work, there are other options available. Putting temporary assignments on your resume can really help fill in gaps in an honest and meaningful way.
Short-term contracts and other non-traditional workflows are increasingly common in today’s job market, and temp work no longer has the negative connotation that it once might have had. As such, employers are more interested in your ability to deliver on responsibilities and keep skills sharp and relevant to your industry. Make sure to share your experience with volunteer work, personal projects, or educational experiences that you took on during your downtime.
Focus on Your Achievements
Employees aren’t just looking for candidates who are employed. They are looking for effective candidates. To help focus your interview on your achievements, rather than your chronological work record, consider presenting your work history in a more non-traditional, functional format resume. In your interview, focus on the things you achieved in each of your jobs, rather than where you worked and what you did or for how long. This is actually a better approach to take anyway because employers are most interested in what you can do for them, not necessarily how long you have done it before.
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