How to Handle a Gap in Your Resume

Jan 12, 2018

At My Second Act, one of the most common concerns we have Members raising is the gap on the resume. Women who have taken a career break for personal reasons and seek to return to work feel compelled to explain the gap and/or apologize for it.

If you have been in the same position, this may resonate with you. The other common thing that several women in this position do is to find the need to over commit when agreeing to things that they can do, so that the employer has no reason to doubt their commitment.

This is a relevant concern and one faced more often than not by women ready to re-enter the workforce after a career break. Here is a checklist to help you tackle that gap confidently.

First things first, own your choice mentally. If you took time out to have a child, or travel or look after aging parents, or even to explore entrepreneurship – you have benefitted considerably in terms of the skills that you acquired whilst being on a break – both personally and professionally.

It is key to remember that a strong and memorable resume is one that is specifically relevant to the position you are applying for and one that highlights your skill-set in that particular context.

  1. This means going through the descriptions of roles you are interested in and then correlating why you are a good fit.
    1. It is perfectly acceptable to use volunteer experience to highlight a skill set, especially one that is directly relevant to the job you are applying for.
  2. Correlation is important on a lot of fronts.
    1. When you are interviewing for a job, then the employee and the employer both need to fit each other’s expectations. This is not a one-way exercise.
      1. Direct correlation – skills that are directly relevant need to be highlighted
      2. Indirect correlation – any skills that have been acquired through experience or self-study are also relevant and deserve to be highlighted.
  3. Make a list of skills that you think the role in question would require and make a concerted effort to highlight them on your resume. You have several transferable and relevant skills which any company would be happy to avail of.
    1. Make sure you give examples of how you have put your skills to use recently. The examples do not need to be fancy, but they do need to be relevant and adequately convey what you are trying to.
    2. This may be something you acquired as a volunteer or even as a parent volunteer at School events.
  4. Own it – Yes. Own that gap. It is not something that can be or should be wished away, explained unnecessarily or apologized for. Remember:-
    1. Taking a break and opting out has no impact on a person’s work ethic.
    2. What you think you lack is made up for and compensated more than adequately in life experience and organizational skills.

As a woman grows older and plays the many roles she does in her life, she only becomes – smarter, more capable and a better multi-tasker. Modern day parenting requires mothers to be highly focused and incredibly organized. These are skills that any company would pay good money for training their people to acquire!

Get more advice and structured support on handling a gap on your resume here.
This is your Second Act. Let’s begin.