Do you have a gap in your resume? How do you handle that gap? We hear this question a lot and one reader posed it through our “Ask a Coach” series. Career coach Jennifer Bevan answered our reader here, and we suggest reading this post on tips for your resume and LinkedIn on the same topic.
Q: What is the best way to approach gaps in my resume (in my case eight years) during which I was a full-time stay-at-home mom and where my experience may not be as relevant (i.e. when I left work, social media was barely being used!)? ~Stephanie
A: This is a great question, and one faced by many women ready to re-enter the workforce after a career break. Strong resumes are ones that are tailored to the specific role you are targeting, showcasing your relevant skills and accomplishments.
So you first want to do a thorough analysis of the job descriptions of roles you are interested in. Look at the qualifications they are looking for. Even if you haven’t been working in the past 8 years, think about any projects you have worked on or volunteer work you have done during your time off.
Pull out your transferable skills. Even if you don’t have direct experience, you most likely have skill sets that align with what the employer is seeking.
For example, let’s say you are interested in a marketing role. Marketing requires strong communications, leadership, teamwork and project management skills, including understanding of the customer.
Maybe you ran a fundraiser at your kids’ school. You likely used all of those skills to get the job done — led a team of volunteers, communicated with school administrators and parents, marketed the fundraiser to local businesses and service providers etc. If the job you are interested in asks for social media skills, then think of how you may have leveraged social media to market the fundraiser and include that as a bullet point.
Remember in your resume to make your bullets impact oriented — meaning try to show the results of your work by quantifying achievements (i.e., raised $X for the school, or grew school’s Facebook following by X%).
In terms of the 8-year gap, if you have had a series of volunteer and freelance projects during your time off, you can group all of these under one common “Volunteer and Project Work” heading or “Independent Consultant” and your bullet points can start with the organization name, followed by what you did and the results. Grouping all of your work during your time off helps your resume look less fragmented, and it also allows people to see that you stayed engaged and kept your skills fresh while on a career break.
~Jennifer Chow Bevan, Career Coach
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