Dealing with a Job Gap on Your Resume

Did you take time off to rear children?  Take care of an aging parent? Travel the world? Try out a new business?  Or just out of work.

If you have been out of the work force for some time for any reason, you are not alone.  Many of us have left, not just because we lost a job.  We chose to leave for a variety of reasons.  But those reasons may not resonate with the hiring manager when we go on an interview.

How do you deal with a job gap?  If you know you are about to lose a job or you have been out of work taking care of family issues, it is imperative for you to spend some of that time preparing for re-entry.  Here are four ways to help ease your re-entry and put something meaningful on your resume:

VOLUNTEER WORK – Follow your passion by volunteering for your favorite cause.  It could be office work, outdoor work, running an event, calling donors, helping at an animal shelter, feeding the homeless.  Or volunteer for an organization that uses your specific skills that you would like to keep sharp in anticipation of returning to the workplace – event planning, strategic planning, website development, marketing, branding, and member recruitment.  Try places like the Taproot Foundation.

CONSULTING – Find clients through your previous colleagues and past supervisors.  There are always projects that full-time staff is too busy to take on.  Working as a consultant in the interim will add to your income and your skill set and gives you the opportunity to try out new companies, new cultures, and expand your network. You can also find temp or part-time or interim work through agencies that specialize in placing people in interim work.

TAKE A COURSE – Re-tool, upgrade, or learn new skills. Take a free course from a MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses), a free webinar; attend a conference in your field.  Go back to school for a certificate program, diploma, badge or full degree program.  Try your local community college or high school for continuing education courses.

INTERNSHIP – Work in a real company with a real job.  You don’t have to be Robert De Niro to get a short-term or summer or part-time for little or no pay, just to keep up your skills and have a place holder company on your resume.  Temp agencies can place you short term assignments that can keep you in the loop.

If you are doing pro bono (free) consulting or volunteering do not use those words in your resume.  Simply put in the name of the organization and your title…not volunteer.  Work is work. Experience is experience whether you get paid or not.

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