Whether it's due to corporate layoffs, family leave, or whatever reason, you may find yourself between jobs. It’s not unusual. But this does provide job seekers with a noticeable gap in employment.
In employers’ terms, that time is unaccounted for. If you send your resume to an employer without providing any context, the recruiter or hiring manager is left to his or her own imagination to deduce how you’re spending your working hours. For all they know, you're sitting on the couch eating bonbons and watching Gilligan's Island reruns.
The point here is not to advise you how to hide such gaps on your resume. Rather, how do you really use that time effectively so that you don't have a hole?
- Devote a portion of every day to the job hunt. Block out time on your calendar when you will check job listings, apply to jobs, send out resumes, reach out to your LinkedIn network, attend professional events, and so forth. Routine will reinforce in your mind that searching for a job is a job in itself. Consider dressing in business attire to help establish the proper mindset.
- Keep busy with temporary or part-time work. I used to work in recruitment, and I once left a position without another job in hand (the position and I were a poor fit for each other). Through my network, I came across a part-time opportunity with a staffing firm. We were able to negotiate a flexible work schedule which allowed me to interview for full-time jobs on an as-needed basis. At the same time, I kept my skills sharp. And after the ego hit of being unemployed, I was able to rebuild my confidence and demonstrate to potential employers that my skills and I were valued and still in demand.
- Volunteer. Do you have a favorite cause? Skills you can share? Consider volunteering with a charitable cause close to your heart. In the nonprofit world dollars are tight, and giving freely of your time a few hours a week can ease a substantial burden. In addition to generating some positive karma in your account, you can pick and choose type of work you wish to do and how contribute your talents. Are you an accountant and your church needs help installing QuickBooks? Perhaps the local food pantry need help boxing meals. Or maybe can you provide assistance in another area of expertise?
Maybe the hole in your resume is in your past; try to think back of how you spent that time. If you used it working in an unrelated field or volunteering, account for that time on your resume as well.
Oh - in case you were wondering, full-time parenting counts as work. Take your credit where it's due.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at email@example.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.