It can be a difficult obstacle to overcome when you have substantial gaps in your employment history. I have worked with a variety of clients who fall into this category including:
- Caregivers who exited the paid workforce in the past to raise their children or to take care of ailing family members.
- Those who have experienced traumatic illness or injury that prevented them from working for a period of time.
- Those who have been laid off at least once and who have had difficulty maintaining a steady history of employment.
Here are some recommendations on how to market yourself effectively, even if you have an intermittent work history or your contributions were not exchanged for pay.
Dig A Little Deeper
Closely examine your professional experience, both within the context of your former positions and in a volunteer or home-based capacity. Consider these experiences:
Self-Study or Academic
- Did you learn anything new? If you took classes, what were your subjects, grades, major projects, and academic achievements (or those of the children you were supervising)?
- Did you take online or community education courses, especially technology?
- Did you gain cultural experience from traveling?
- Did you read books relevant to your profession?
- Did you self-study something like a language or something relevant to your field, like taking classes to keep up a license or certification?
- Did you challenge yourself to achieve a goal?
- Did you create anything?
- Did you make crafts and sell them on eBay, Etsy, or the local craft fairs?
- Did you pursue any hobbies?
- Did you write anything?
- Did you use the time to write a book, design a program, etc., even if it is not published or in use?
- Did you manage any finances?
- Did you volunteer your time or skills?
- Did you lead any groups or activities?
- Did you volunteer for a role with the school’s PTA?
- Did you have any responsibilities in your religious institution?
- Did you manage any people, activities, systems, or information?
- Did you participate in any professional association activities?
- Did you register with temp agencies? Even if they didn’t use you very often, they are the employer of record.
- Did you do some consulting work, such as helping a friend or neighbor with a business or technology needs? Money doesn’t have to change hands to be legitimate consulting.
- Did you project manage a household renovation project?
- Did you do the books for a family business?
- Did you manage the household and finances of adult parents under your care?
- Did you help anyone?
- Did you take care of anyone?
Remember, the context of the challenge (home or volunteer) might be as important as the context of the achievement (e.g., led a volunteer team of X to accomplish a major goal with a budget of $Y).
Build Your Resume Carefully
There is exponential value in building your resume and crafting the language to resonate with prospective employers, and the same holds true for those with resume gaps. However, we need to be sure to emphasize the transferrable assets a job seeker brings without focusing too heavily on the fact that the experience might be older. Finally, be sure to choose a resume format that emphasizes your assets and former skills.
Good luck and remember Resume Assassin is here to help! Reach out at www.resumeassassin.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.