“If someone hasn’t had a job in a while (let’s say a couple years), what, on the resume, would make you consider them for the job?”
This is a common question among job seekers with resume gaps. The following answer was originally published on Quora by investor and consultant, Bernie Klinder. He’s graciously allowed me to publish it here under a new headline and format.
Legitimate Reasons for Resume Gaps
Long gaps on resumes are a red flag for HR.
It could mean you are covering up a reason for the gap, or that you’re just unemployable and that other employers have consistently passed you up.
But there are many legitimate reasons for a gap:
- raising children,
- taking care of a sick relative,
- or other personal reasons.
I have a 2-year gap in my mid-30’s because I traveled the country after selling my business.
How to Address the Resume Gaps
You need to address the gaps, as openly and honestly as you can.
The more obtuse you are, the more the hiring manager will think you’re hiding something.
You also need to show what you’ve done with that time, or at least the last few months to stay relevant in the marketplace. You need to show that your skills are still current.
Years ago, I interviewed a candidate that had been unemployed for over a year. I felt bad for him.
But when I asked him what new skills he had learned in that period, he didn’t have an answer.
There is a world of free information and training available at your fingertips, especially in information technology.
I would expect a candidate who hadn’t worked in several years to be able to demonstrate that they’ve taken the initiative to keep their skills up to date and maybe even learn something new.
This can be accomplished through:
- Industry certifications
- LinkedIn Learning courses
- MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) (like the ones found on Coursera.org).
- College classes
- Local community education classes
- Anything that shows you’ve not just been sitting on your butt.
Be able to talk about current or cutting edge industry trends and things in the news.
Always show interest in the hiring company.
You have to demonstrate that your head is still in the game, and you’re ready to work!
Why Networking Helps
Ultimately, the hiring manager needs to know that you can hit the ground running and be ready to work day 1, and not “Oh, I’ve never used this version of the software before”, or “I’ve never seen that technology before.”
I would also leverage your social network for referrals.
Managers expect candidates from job boards and other online sources to be sketchy. They far prefer referrals from someone they know and trust.
Be Confident, Despite the Gaps
Above all, don’t beg or seem desperate — even if you are.
The good employers will pass on you and the bad ones will take advantage of you.
Be confident, have an attitude of “I got this, and I’m chomping at the bit to get back at it,” and you’ll stand out in a good way.
Thank you Bernie for sharing your honest feedback!