How Should Your Resume Explain Unemployment Periods?

woman working on her laptop, looking for a job
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While the real unemployment rate It is notoriously hard to pin down, one thing is certain: many people will experience a spell of unemployment at some point in their lives. And these periods do not just make it difficult to pay bills in the meantime, they can also make it harder to get a new job.

The much feared "job gap" on your resume can be a warning sign for potential employers who are wondering what you have done during this time. But it does not have to be a red flag. If you know the right approach, you can use your resume to explain your experience, even the shortcomings, in a way that shows that you are the ideal candidate for the job.

How can you use your resume to explain periods of unemployment? Here's how to do it to get the job you want.

Carefully fill in your gaps

If you find yourself unemployed, now or in the future, this is a good time to fill this gap with a productive experience that you can put on your resume.

There are many ways to advance your career or skills without actually having a job. Take the time to volunteer in your area of ​​activity or sign up for a free online course to develop your skills. Now you will have relevant experience that you can add to your resume for the period you were unemployed.

If you can, add the date of this non-professional experience to your resume (for example, by indicating the completion date of your online course). In this way, you can tell potential employers that even when you were not working officially, you were still working on your career.

Relax your dates

If you already have gaps in employment that you have not filled with other interesting experiences, you can mitigate them in your resume. Consider writing your dates in a slightly more flexible way. Instead of indicating the month and year of start and end of each job, simply indicate the year. In this way, even if you were unemployed for several months in the year, it will not be obvious.

Change your format

If you have a chronological resume the formatyour dates of employment (and any gaps) are in the foreground. Moving to a functional or hybrid resume pushes this information further down the page, or removes it completely.

You can instead place other information, such as your valuable skills, at the top of the page. By focusing first on the value you bring to the table, you can reduce even the gap between the most glaring work history.

Never lie

You have plenty of options to hide the shortcomings of your work history on your resume. However, never resort to lying. It's too easy to be caught in a lie when asked in your interview, which will inevitably cost you the job. Plus, with so many options for explaining or hiding periods of unemployment in your resume, you really do not need to lie.

Declare him "sabbatical"

One way to address the shortcomings of your resume is to be as clear and direct as possible. If you wish, you can indicate your unemployment dates in the Work History section under the label "Professional Sabbatical". This indicates that you have voluntarily spent time at work, without going into details.

Use your coaching letter

Whether you register a sabbatical in your resume or use a different method to manage the gap, you can use your cover letter to answer the employer's questions. For example, you may briefly mention that you were away from work for several months to take care of an elderly parent or to spend some time backpacking in Europe. Better yet, try to mention something you learned from this time off that will help you in the job for which you are applying.

In many sectors, employment gaps are more prevalent than before. And despite the difficulties of unemployment, these shortcomings can also be beneficial: they offer you an excellent opportunity to explore contract work, to recover from burnout, to educate yourself or to give your time to a good cause . As you build your resume, try to focus on the positive aspects of what you have done during these off-peak times, and you will signal to potential employers that you are a hard-working worker who always uses his time wisely.

Then learn how to adapt your CV for each job for which you are applying.

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