Part Five: How to Handle Gaps in Employment
So far in this series on crafting your resume, we have just concerned ourselves with how you can present yourself best if you have been working steadily for years. Today we will address writing a resume when you have significant gaps of time in your employment. Whether it is because you took time off to care for aging parents, to raise a family, or for some other reason there are some things you can do to make your resume more current, interesting and engaging. And we will also show you a sample resume so you can see one way to position yourself well after a few years out of the workplace.
Show that you were busy during your off-years
• Did you take any classes? List any courses you have taken during that time, show that you have some personal projects that you are currently working on, and sign up for some classes now to show that you are committed to re-joining the workforce.
• Did you volunteer during your time off? List any volunteer positions that are relevant to the job you are seeking, or ones that highlight your leadership and interpersonal skills.
• Did you do some consulting work? If so, make an umbrella to highlight all of your consulting activity during the past years. You can list beginning and ending dates of all consulting jobs combined (instead of listing each one). Definitely only list those significant projects that you are interested in discussing. If these projects are relevant for the job you are seeking, you most likely will not be asked for the specific dates for each one.
• Emphasize the positive: that you did something during that time, gained some knowledge and experience relevant to the job you are seeking, and that you are very excited to re-enter the workforce.
An Example of a Resume Used to Re-enter the Workplace
Here is an example of what a solid resume can look like, even after several years out of the workplace:
· Motivated professional with solid analytical and programming skills
· Committed, hard-working person focused on thorough comprehensive research and development
· Fast and efficient self-learner
· Uncompromising worker aiming at on-time delivery and clear meaningful results
· Languages: SQL, PL/SQL, Java
· Databases: Oracle, MySQL
· Environment: Eclipse, Git, Unix, Windows, Tomcat
· Stanford University courses:
- Machine Learning: Linear and logistic regression, neural networks, SVM, clustering, recommender systems and general ML system design and evaluation methods; programming in Octave
- Introduction to Databases: Relational design theory, SQL (basic, constraints and triggers, indexes, transactions, views, authorization and recursion), XML, Xpath, Xquery, XSLT, UML, OLAP and NoSQL
· Web Intelligence and Big Data (online IIT Delhi course): classification and prediction principles and approaches
· Statistics: Making Sense of Data (online University of Toronto course): descriptive and inferential statistics, programming in R
· M.S. in Mathematics, …
January 2013 – current: Personal projects
- competing in machine learning challenges at Kaggle.com
- exploring AWS EC2/S3/EBS/EMR
Concise list of previous positions held
A Few More Little Things You Can Do
• Don’t mention why you were out of work on your resume. It can be discussed during an interview if necessary.
• If you held a position for several years, just list the years (ex: from 2001-2004) on your resume, instead of including the months.
• You can use your cover letter as an opportunity to explain long gaps (taking care of an aged parent, raising children, etc.)
• Make sure to mention awards earned in any competition that highlight your problem solving capabilities or any other skills relevant for the job you are seeking – even if they are from a long time ago.