One red flag that really stands out to employers on a resume is a significant gap - or several gaps - between positions.
You can almost hear people thinking as they scan through, “What happened here in 2009?”
Well, anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave for the last 4 years is well aware of what happened in 2009, and 2010, and 2011...
But even though the US job market has gone through some massive ups and downs over the last 12 years - including the Great Recession and the dot-com bubble - seeing a break in employment on a resume still gives readers pause.
Though you could bemoan the fact that the world is cruel for not focusing on all the amazing things you’ve done in your life instead of focusing on the gap(s), you’re better off taking a more positive approach and deftly handling those red flags before you send out your resume.
There’s a good article in CNN Moneythat gives a few ways to handle the gaps:
- Address the elephant in the room - that is be direct about it
- De-emphasize the amount of time between jobs
- Focus on new skills you acquired while not gainfully employed
Of course you’ll always have time to explain yourself during your interview (which The Wall Street Journal shows good ways to handle), but you’ll have to get to that interview first. Which is why it’s best to start with the resume, then work out what you’ll say during your interviews.
If you’re currently between positions and are able to work, there are a number of ways to show to the world that you’re serious about being an amazing addition to any team:
- Take classes (there are some amazing and free MOOCs being offered)
- Do volunteer work
- Take a stopgap job
Any of these options show that you were doing more than just sitting around the house playing Xbox (even if you were sometimes doing just that).
If you’re a designer, be sure to check out our Resume Reader to see an interactive example of other red flags on a design resume.
Have other ideas of filling the gap? Let us know!