Turn Your Resume Challenges to Triumphs
Not everyone’s career path is a straight line or even a continuous one. But gaps in employment, short employment stints, and changing job fields can raise questions for potential employers. A strong resume will pre-emptively address some of those questions and can even make you a stronger candidate.
How to address a recent employment gap
It can be hard to re-enter the workforce after time away as technology and desirable skills may have changed in the interim. If you are currently in a gap, keep up with trade websites, organizations, and publications. If you identify skills that are in demand, see if you can acquire those even without formal certification. Attend events to network and keep connections. Then you can use your resume to show employers how you kept up with the field independently and reiterate your still-relevant skills.
- Include details in the time gap about what you were doing independently in that time away (courses taken, interests pursued, how you kept up with the knowledge of what the industry was doing, certificates completed).
- Highlight your skills that are still relevant through a skills table, a mention in a summary statement, detailing them under your experiences, or even italicizing or bolding those that are particularly relevant to the job.
How to change career paths or fields without direct experience
Many roles are looking for previous experience or specialized field knowledge, so breaking into a new career can be difficult. Drawing attention to your transferable skills and explaining your reasoning for the career change can help get you in the door.
- Make it clear in your summary or objective statement why you are pursuing/interested in this new career path and company or why you temporarily pursued something outside of your career path.
- Review the job description of a role that you’re interested in and identify the transferable skills necessary for the job. Design your resume focusing on these skills. Tailor the details under experience to demonstrate how you have used those transferable skills before.
- Focus on applying to roles that have some overlap with your previous jobs either in responsibilities, industry, or skills to make switching less of a hurdle. Changing fields and skills at the same time will be more difficult than changing just one.
How to address leaving a previous job abruptly
This can raise doubts about your willingness to invest time in your prospective new company. Focus on ways you can clarify or obscure the abrupt departure.
- Display your years in previous positions as just years not including the month. It can make a short position less obvious.
Instead of displaying months and years:
Try presenting experience as only years:
- Consider leaving off the experience altogether if it was not in a similar field to the job you are seeking, was more than 5 years ago, or you have plenty of other more relevant experience to include. However, if they ask for a full/complete job history, do not leave the experience out.
- If it was something beyond your control and not related to performance make that clear in the description of the experience. Reasons that fall under this include the company closing down, the company downsizing, or if it was a temporary position.
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