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Mind the Gap Print
Written by Abby Kohut   

There was a time in my career when seeing gaps on a candidate's resume raised a red flag. Once 9/11 happened, that concern flew out the window. The year that followed 9/11 was a time when even the best employees were being laid off due to no fault of their own.  The current state of affairs presents similar challenges.

Any recruiter who doesn’t understand a gap in your employment in the past 8 years should be reported to the HR police (ah…if there only was such an organization…I would have sent many of my co-workers to recruiting jail).

One way to hide gaps is to simply the list years of employment rather than the months. For example, if you worked somewhere from January 2000 – September 2001 and then had a gap from 9/11 until January 2002, omit the months and list the years of employment (2000 – 2001) instead. If you choose to use this format, follow it consistently for all of your work experience. A recruiter will not know precisely where your gaps are until the phone screen, at which point your toe is already in the door. Nonetheless, a savvy recruiter will know that you are trying to cover up a gap and will question you about the specific months. Be prepared to explain what activities you were involved in during the gap. Volunteering at church or helping to coach a little league team will be seen as positive experiences whereas just sitting home staring at your computer and responding to ads will not.

Many parents have gaps because they took several years off from work to raise a child. Parenting is probably the most difficult job you'll ever have - do not think of those years as gaps in employment. Consider listing your mommy or daddy related responsibilities on your resume in the section with your work experiences. Some recruiters will appreciate a title such as "Domestic Engineer" or "Manager of Domestic Affairs" along with a cleverly written but brief job description. Personally, I think the more appropriate title should be "Organizational Expert, Pep Talker, Chauffeur, Mediator, Chef, & Life Conductor" but I recommend that you save that one for another purpose. Use your cover letter to emphasize that you have kept your skills up-to-date and are energized to return to the workforce. 

Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
Prepare a good reason for any gaps on your resume in addition to an explanation of how that time away may have enhanced your career. Gaps are typically not the reason why people don’t get hired. It's the inability to explain them sufficiently and or a lack of confidence about them that is likely to hurt you.
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Drawn from my 18 years of experience and research in recruiting and Human Resources, my blog posts are intended to provide insight into what corporate recruiters and Human Resource professionals look for when they are evaluating your qualifications. Simply reading these blogs will not guarantee you success. However, consistently applying the strategies mentioned, as well as developing your own personal interview style, will greatly enhance your chances of victory amidst the competition. I wish you the best of luck with your search as you begin to take charge of your career!