Résumé Gaps? Take Some Good Advice

vector_man_leaping_gap.jpgHere at ExecuNet, we are a source of trusted advice for anything related to your life as an executive. If it’s related to your career, business, leadership skills, or overall wellbeing, we have people here, or in our network, who can help you achieve your goals. Here’s a note that came in from a member looking for advice on overcoming résumé gaps:

I’m not getting interviews and I can’t figure out why. When I was laid off four months ago, in addition to the usual concerns of “How quickly will I find a new job?” and “How will I pay the mortgage?” I was worried about having yet another employment gap in my résumé, as I had already taken time out from my career to raise my children when they were small. I’m concerned that with this break, employers will think I’m taking more breaks than an aging rock band. Do you have any advice for me?

–Karina in Corpus Christi

The aging rock band comparison is hilarious! Karina’s sense of humor and storytelling comes shining through in that statement. If she brings such personality to her job search, she’s going to be just fine.

The résumé gap concern is all too common. The best way to approach such gaps is to own the narrative. Your gaps are legitimate. You stepped away when your children were small to raise them. Who wouldn’t understand that? And anyone who couldn’t isn’t someone you’d want to work for anyway. Additionally, the skills necessary to manage a growing family and the lessons learned from that experience are equally valuable in many ways, and to many people, to the formal commercial managerial responsibilities missed out on in that time.

Getting laid off has become extremely common in recent years and is no longer a source of shame. It’s pretty much business as usual these days when looking at résumés. Simply explain what the company was going through and how you were a casualty of the situation. These days, it’s no longer something that’s held against candidates.

Fill any gap in your résumé with value!

No matter what you were doing between jobs, take control of the narrative and explain how what you were doing makes you a better candidate. Time away from the normal corporate world is a fantastic opportunity to differentiate yourself from other candidates, to stand out because of different circumstances and experiences.

So my advice is to own the gap and proclaim why it makes you better suited to solve their problems and be the answer they are looking for.

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is ExecuNet's president and chief economist. An Arjay Miller Scholar, Mark received his MBA from Stanford University and a BA in economics from Yale University. He joined ExecuNet in 1993, with extensive marketing and new product and business development experience, having served as president and founder of A&M Associates, an investment management firm. Mark's corporate leadership experience includes several senior marketing and financial positions with RCA Global Communications (a GE subsidiary) and American Can Company.

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