Experts suggest highlighting activities during
periods of joblessness
November 22, 2009
Employment gaps on resumes can
present obstacles for job seekers trying to present a consistent
It's an issue that has become
more prevalent as job losses have swelled and the time it
takes to find new work has grown.
"Unfortunately it's a reality
for a lot of people," said Kathy Sweeney, a resume consultant
in Queen Creek who works with job seekers worldwide. "A gap
of . . . six months to a year right now is not that uncommon."
The average number of weeks
the unemployed have been out of work grew in October to 26.9,
up from 19.8 a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics. Additionally, the pool of long-term unemployed
workers - those who are jobless for 27 or more weeks - reached
5.6 million in October, up from 2.3 million a year earlier.
Many job seekers have taken
positions unrelated to their career field to pay bills. Others
have decided to go back to school or obtain special certifications.
Some job candidates question
whether they should include positions on their resume that
are considered less prestigious than the jobs they would normally
perform. Others worry if unpaid activities, such as volunteering
or schooling, are relevant.
There are ways to make such
experience pertinent, Sweeney said.
The No. 1 goal is to be
honest and not lie to cover up gaps, said Deborah House, managing
director of the Scottsdale office of Technisource, an information-technology
Volunteer activities, certification
programs, consulting and other activities in which you have
participated "shows you have a continuing progression of investing
in your skills," House said.
For positions outside your
primary career field, the key is relating the functions you
performed to the requirements of the new job you are seeking.
"(You) need to show a consistent
track record of success in every position you've ever been
in," Sweeney said. "Just because someone is working in a position
that is lower than what they're used to does not mean they
Dividing your work history
into "related experience" and "additional experience" that
shows consistent employment is another way to address gaps,
And don't ignore volunteering.
"Experience is experience
whether it's paid or volunteer," Sweeney said.