Do you have any gaps in your resume?

I’m talking about the big, red-flag kind of gaps.

Maybe your resume gap is due to unexpected downsizing, extended travel, or health & family issues.

Having a resume gap can be quite common, especially these days.

They’re not as eyebrow-raising as they used to be, but you still have to be accountable for them.

Prospective employers want to know what was going on behind the scenes.

As a job seeker, you will have to answer this question. So be prepared.

How do you deal with it? Here’s how.

Be Honest

It’s essential to be honest. There is no point in telling a lie; bluffing your way is not an option. The risk is high if a hiring manager sees straight through you.

Explain the circumstance that led to the compulsive gap on your resume, with no excuses. In the words of James Caan, serial entrepreneur “Personally, I am always more interested in the abilities and characteristics of an individual – if they haven’t been in work for a while but have the quality my company needs, I will hire them”.

Think Outside the Box

If you’re currently between jobs and worry that it might lead to a lengthy gap in your resume, consider performing some volunteering work. Non-profits are always seeking volunteers, and you never know who you’ll meet while on a project. You could learn of a new opportunity while donating your time. And even if you don’t, your volunteer gig closes that resume gap nicely.

Even if you’re seeking a structured, full-time job to replace your old one, doing contract or part-time work can minimize – or close entirely –  a resume gap. Freelance work is available in a variety of industries via sites like ODesk, Elance, Vworker, and Guru.

Focus On Your New Skills

Some people tend to think that schools, colleges and office spaces are the only places where learning takes place.

Well, this is definitely not true. Let’s take an example. Maybe you took time off from your work in order to travel and write. In such a scenario, you learned how to deal with hardships, coping with different people from various cultures and backgrounds.

Such an experience enhances your tolerance, and your abilities to deal with different types of people and make you more culturally sound. This kind of an experience can be useful for any business, global or local.

Or let’s consider another situation where you have taken time off in order to raise your children. You are bound to have sharpened skills like organization, multitasking and discipline. Try and make the hiring manager aware of all your skills; justify how relevant are they in your new job and how can you actually apply them.

Reflect and Skew Positively

Maybe you took time off to explore your options, start a business, or pursue your passion. But it failed, and you’re headed back to a “real” job. No worries in explaining this one.

What did you learn?

Ponder over how this can help you in your present times and your future job. How did this “gap period” help you? What challenges did you face? How have you grown? Reflect on questions like these, be sincere in your responses, and practice to ensure you sound natural and confident about shifting gears again.

Let Your Talents Be Your Guide

Fortunately, in our current economic & job markets, the focus lies more on finding the right kind of talent for the job at hand. So, even though you might feel concern about your resume gap, sometimes they aren’t as big an issue as you expect them to be.

In these cases, as long as your resume reflects a strong skillset for the position, you have a positive attitude, and are proactive in your approach, a gap in resume isn’t the red flag that it used to be.

About the Author: Sampurna Majumder is a blogger and a professional career author with proven expertise in writing for topics related to jobs, job trends, different job opportunities, various workplace and industry information, tips and strategies for job seekers.

Image courtesy of ciscopa.