You’re in between jobs, actively seeking the next stop on your career path.
But finding a new position is taking longer than you had expected, and you’re worried about the growing “gap” on your resume. Yes, there can be plenty of excellent reasons for gaps in a resume, but the general rule is to minimize them whenever possible.
In an interview you’d have a chance to explain these gaps, but it’s those same gaps that might keep your resume out of the “to interview” pile in the first place. Oh, the irony.
Getting Around Resume Gaps
Have no fear, dear jobseeker. There are a few things you can do to beef up your resume with relevant experience during this brief period of unemployment.
Here are five resume builders you can tackle during your job hunt to increase your chances of getting hired:
- Volunteer. Non-profits don’t have the big budgets of larger corporations, so they are always looking for help. In many cases, volunteers complete the same tasks that employees do, so you’re still learning valuable skills. Many employers look for volunteer experience these days, because it proves that you’re not afraid to do hard work for no pay. In fact, a lot of companies require the employees to complete service hours a couple times a year, so proving that you already have a servant heart is a huge bonus.
- Get a temp job. While working as a barista or lifeguard isn’t exactly on the job training for what you might want to do 10 years from now, it does help you learn skills like team building, interpersonal communication, customer relations, and more. If you can connect these relevant experiences to the job you want, it’s time well spent.
- Learn a new skill. If you have been looking at online job descriptions, you might see that many positions require you to be familiar with various computer programs. Lynda.com is a great resource for self-paced learning on a variety of software applications. This is a great time to take advantage of the opportunity to learn these skills. Even if you simply check out the 30-day free trial of a software package, you could still have a leg up over other applicants.
- Increase your social media presence. If you’re looking for a position in social media, PR, marketing, advertising, or any field for that matter, having knowledge of social media, and the proof that you have this knowledge, is paramount. It’s not enough to have an account in your name, or know how to “like” things and post pictures. Consider starting a blog discussing your job search, or increase your twitter followers by sharing content more regularly. You might even be inspired to use social media to nail your dream job, like Jeanne Hwang did.
- Organize a community event. Whether it’s an art show, a carnival for kids, a 5k race, or an attempt to set a Guinness World Record, organizing large events provides valuable experience, and looks great on a resume. It proves that you work with others while under a lot of pressure and still complete a goal. Companies love to see experience like this, plus it can be a ton of fun for you, your friends, and the community. You might even make a networking contact at the event!
You’ll find your next career opportunity soon, even though you might be feeling anxious in the meantime. But rather than sweat the potential time gap on your resume, try taking one or more of these suggestions to add some experience to your resume.
Have you ever stressed about potential gaps on your resume? How did you overcome it?
Emily Hankinson is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh where she majors in Communications and is working toward a certificate in Public and Professional Writing. She also served as the PR and Social Media Coordinator for her service sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma. Emily Tweets regularly and blogs.
Laptop image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan.