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Tips for Explaining an Unemployment Gap in Your Resume

You may experience unemployment at some point in your career. This could be due to unexpected layoffs at work or quitting your job for personal reasons. When you start looking for your next job, you may worry that gaps in your resume will affect your employability. It is true that future employers will likely have questions for you about any periods of unemployment you have. However, there are many ways you can talk positively about the times when you were without work. 

When addressing unemployment periods in your resume, it is important that you speak positively about your professional experiences. This is not the time to explain any personal reasons you have for being out of work. You also should not complain about your previous employer or job. Here are some tips for talking about your work history to ensure you highlight your experiences and qualifications. 

Be Truthful About Your Unemployment

No matter the situation, you should always tell the truth about any gaps you have in your professional work experience. This does not mean you need to explain every detail about why you were unemployed. However, it also does not mean you should make up experiences or jobs to pad your resume. This can lead to complications and confusion later in your professional career.

Highlight Alternative Experiences from Your Unemployment Period

When you were unemployed, did you volunteer for a local charity? Did you stay home and raise your children or care for an elderly relative? If any of these experiences relate to the job you are applying for, you can include them on your resume.

When you apply for a job, recruiters and hiring managers may be concerned if they see large periods of unemployment in your work history. To avoid red flags, be sure to include any related activities you participated in during that time. This is especially true if these experiences resulted in you:

  • Earning a professional certification.
  • Learning a new language.
  • Developing soft skills, such as communication or time management.

Provide Professional References and Recommendations

If you left on good terms with your previous supervisor, he or she may be willing to write you a recommendation or serve as a reference for you. Prospective employers may see a gap in your resume and worry your unemployment is a result of performance-related reasons. If you can provide a reference or recommendation from your former boss, however, you may be able to show that you were let go for reasons that were out of your control.

However, it is not always possible that you will be able to obtain a recommendation from the supervisor you last worked for. In these circumstances, try and obtain references from other professional contacts who can speak on behalf of your work ethic or job performance. Stay away from personal references that come from friends and family members.

Use Your Cover Letter to Explain Periods of Unemployment

Sometimes, you may need to explain why you were unemployed. This is especially true if you were without work for a long period of time. In these situations, you can use your cover letter to provide an explanation about any periods of unemployment you have in your professional history. By explaining a gap in your cover letter, you can be sure that the hiring manager will already know about your professional history before you meet him or her face to face.  

 

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