Whatever the reason may be, many of us take time off work.  Sometimes it’s voluntary and especially in this economy,  its involuntary.  Between jobs it can take time to find something new which inevitably leaves resume gaps.  In the last year I’ve seen resume gaps getting longer and in a competitive job market it’s not positive to have too much time in between jobs.  Job seekers are finding creative ways to make their resumes chronologically appealing.

Candidates are constantly asking for advice on how to explain time off in between jobs.  Obviously, every situation is different, however the main message is universal:

1. Dates

When listing dates on your resume you don’t need to list the month and year only if you were in a position for over a year or if your position spans multiple years.  For example, you could say 2004 – 2008 (rather than May, 2004 – April, 2008) which would give you some room to cover the gaps.

You can format your resume to minimize the gaps in your employment history.  For example, don’t bold the dates and/or use a smaller font than the one you use for the company name or job title. Start your resume with a Summary Statement and Career Highlights section so you are highlighting your skills and accomplishments, rather than when you did what.

2. Cover Letter

When you have employment gaps that don’t fit on your resume (you took time off to care for an aged parent or to raise a child) use your cover letter to explain the gap. That way, the employer will know that there’s an explanation for you being out of the workforce.

3. Stay Honest!

What’s most important, is to tell the truth.  If you are inaccurate on your resume, it will come back to haunt you.  Employers verify work history and if you put incorrect information on your resume, I can guarantee that they’ll find out.  Your work history is a reflection of who you are so always take responsibility for what’s on your resume.  Employers respect that.