Candidates often find themselves between jobs. Layoffs, family leave, or whatever the reason. Thus, it’s not unusual for job seekers to have what’s known as a "hole" on their resume, or a “gap” in employment.
In employers’ terms, that time is unaccounted. Without proper context, an employer might imagine that you’re spending your time on the couch eating bonbons and watching Roseanne 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?
Okay, let’s paint a picture.
You and your employer have parted ways, leaving you unemployed.
Yes, it sucks. You’ve indulged in the obligatory week of self-pity and doubt.
Now, shake it off! We’re going to make some lemonade out of these lemons.
You now have an abundance of a resource which was in seriously short supply. I refer to time.
Here are some suggestions on ways you can close that pending gap on your resume, by keeping busy with meaningful activities. Fill the hole!
- Assuming you know what type of position you would like pursue, devote a standing portion of every day to your job hunt. Block the time on your calendar when you will check job listings, apply to jobs, send out resumes, visit an outplacement center (assuming your prior employer gave you that benefit). Routine will reinforce in your mind that searching for a job is a job in itself. Consider dressing in business attire to put yourself in the mindset.
- Find temporary, part-time work to keep busy. A few years ago, I left a recruitment 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 come to an arrangement where I was able to work a flexible schedule. They allowed me to interview for full-time jobs on an as-needed basis, and at the same time, I kept my skills sharp. Plus, after taking the ego hit of being unemployed, I was able to rebuild my confidence and demonstrate to potential employers that my skills and I were 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. A benefit in addition to adding some karma to your account, is that you can pick and choose the work you wish to contribute. Are you an accountant, and your church could use some help installing QuickBooks? Or does the local food pantry need help boxing meals? Or can you provide extra assistance in some other area of your expertise?
Obviously, if the hole in your résumé 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 résumé as such.
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. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).
Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.