4 Mistakes to Avoid in Addressing Employment Gaps

job search frustration

Did 2020 leave you with an employment gap on your resume?  This is the period of time (months or years) when the job seeker was unemployed. Gaps on the resume can be by choice or hardship.  Sometimes, people decide to stay unemployed because they want to raise their children, travel, or go to school full time.  But when it is by layoff / hardship it can be more difficult to address.

How you handle the conversation is critical to your success no matter the reason for the time-lapse.  Hiring Managers often see gaps on a resume as a big red flag.  Without an explanation, employers may assume the worst. Plus, by trying to cover it up the matter gets worse!  We will go over 4 critical mistakes to avoid when presenting your resume or for your interview discussion.

  1. Don’t use “months” or “days” on the resume timeframe. You can smooth over a small rough patch with the use of “years” on your resume. So, rather than using month/year if you were in a position for over a year or if your position spans multiple years. For example, you could say 2017 – 2019 (rather than May 2017 – August 2019) for a position. Make sense?  Then, if your next job began in November 2019, you can list it as 2019 – Present, which makes the nine-month employment gap less obvious. Here’s an example of how that can look:

Store Manager, XYZ Store
2019 – Present

Sales Associate, ABC Store
2017 – 2019

As you can see, the resume doesn’t specifically say when the candidate started and ended employment, which can cover a brief employment gap. However, if you’re filling out a job application however, you’ll need to be more specific. You’ll also most likely be asked about the dates during a job interview, so be prepared to answer accurately.

  1. Don’t Lie about the Dates or the Time Gap

You will get caught…trust me on this one.  Reference checks and the ease of technology to compare the dates is too darn easy. There is no turning back once you lie- trust is broken and they will not hire you no matter how qualified you are.

  1. Don’t switch to a “Functional Resume”

A Functional resume is where you highlight your skills and qualifications at the top, followed by your chronological work history.  In my experience, HR Managers, Recruiters and Hiring Managers all hate this format and we see it as a red flag for hiding multiple employment gaps or a mis-guided career path.

Instead, consider ways to minimize the visibility of gaps in your resume with highlighted or bold content. For example, you can put the dates in plain font instead of bold. Or, you can use a smaller font size than the one you’re using for the company name and your job title. These small design and formatting choices can make a big difference.

  1. Failure to show personal growth in the time gap

Include Other Experience Gained During the Gap: What did you do while you weren’t employed? Did you freelance or consult? Take a class or study for a certification? How about volunteering? All those experiences count as work and can be included on your resume. List them as you would your other jobs — with job title, company name, job description, and dates of employment.

If you took a class, you could list that in the education section of the resume. If you still taking the class/studying then identify it as such

Education Example:

A+ Certification (Currently pursuing, anticipated completion May 2021)

Job Example:

March 2020- Present

Full-time, at-home Educator


Now, use that awesome resume you’ve just updated using this advice and send to Team@agency8recruiting.com. We wish you GR8 success!!


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