As a certified professional resume writer, I work with a lot of clients throughout all different stages of their careers, but one of the most common questions/concerns people have is how to camouflage an employment gap. People wonder how big of an impact a break in employment will make and what to do about it, so I’m showing you exactly how to camouflage an employment gap on your resume.
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Use nontraditional work experience to your advantage
When you want to camouflage an employment gap on your resume, it’s important to use nontraditional work experience to your advantage. Nontraditional work experience could be anything including volunteer work, side projects, classes/class projects, caring for family members, etc. The goal of including this information is to highlight what you did during your employment gap and to show that you were active throughout the gap. Additionally, this information can shed light on why you have an employment gap in the first place. Maybe you took a break to go to school, to raise kids or to care for a loved one who was ill. All of those situations are extremely commendable and relatable, so it’s important to include that information on your resume.
If you’re listing class projects on your resume, use the school name in place of the company name, and include something along the lines of “[Class Title] Project Manager,” “Student Project Manager,” or “[Class Title] Student” in place of a job title.
Gather specific metrics and achievements for each role
The key to a great resume is highlighting exactly what you’ve achieved and what you can bring to a new role. This is not the place to include a general job description that can be used for anyone with that job title. Highlighting your value, what you’ve accomplished, and what you bring to the table is especially important when you have an employment gap. Regardless of a break in your employment, if you can show a potential employer that you’re a beneficial hire, the break in employment won’t really matter.
Try to answer these questions for each role you put on your resume:
- What did you do at this role?
- How many people did you work with or manage?
- What kind of projects did you work on?
- What were the results of those projects?
This will help ensure that your resume immediately reflects your achievements and what you can bring to the table.
Anyone can say that they’re great at their job, but very few people can actually show it. When you’re noting your achievements, think about how you can quantify what you’ve done.
Include certifications and specialized training
When you want to camouflage an employment gap, including relevant certifications and specialized training can make a huge difference. Even if you don’t have specific certifications but you’ve had internal training, taken an online course, or even just an online tutorial, include that in your resume. This will help an employer see how you align with the position you’re applying for. If you took a break from work to focus on school or family, but kept up with certifications, that indicates motivation and ambition which are important traits to highlight on your resume.
For example, you can take some online tutorials and training sessions on QuickBooks or Adobe Photoshop via YouTube and list that as specialized training. As long as the training gives you an advantage and further educates you on a subject, you can list it on your resume. Here are 10 free online certifications to help boost your resume!
Explore contract or temporary positions to add current work experience to your resume:
When you’ve had a break in employment, one of the best ways to get back into the game is to add current work experience on your resume. Once you’ve completed the steps above, try to gain some traditional work experience so that a current position can headline your resume.
Research shows that the temporary employment industry employs more Americans than ever. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the temporary help services industry now employs around 2.8 million Americans per week, an all-time high. While there seems to be a negative connotation with the words “temporary” and “contract,” these positions can open many doors for you. Contract and/or temporary work can help you in four main ways:
- It will give you current work to put on your resume
- It gives you immediate income while you’re searching for a long term position
- It lets you network with industry professionals
- It gives you the opportunity to show off your capabilities
If you excel at your temporary position, chances are that you will meet people who can a) point you in the right direction, b) know of a job that may interest you, or c) will work with you to keep you at the company but progress to an area that best suits your qualifications.
There is truly no downside to temporary work. It’s not always smart to take a position in an industry or path you’re not interested in, temporary work gives you the opportunity to explore your options and networking opportunities.
It may be intimidating and daunting, but learning how to camouflage an employment gap on your resume isn’t as hard as it seems. The most important things are to stay active and highlight your skills and abilities. Don’t be stagnant and wallow in your sorrows. Take charge of your life, get out there, and make it happen!