contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer
It’s not uncommon for military spouses or recently separated Veterans to change jobs frequently and spend periods of time without employment. Unfortunately, when it comes time to find a new job, resume gaps in work history can be a potential red flag to employers.
This makes sense from the perspective of a hiring manager, as they may indicate an inability to maintain employment or an unwillingness to work in general. But job gaps on resumes are par for the course when you’re associated with the military. Frequent moves, overseas deployments, and adjustment periods make it nearly impossible to maintain continuity of employment. Don’t worry, though. This can work in your favor. You can learn how to explain gaps in employment to showcase all the amazing skills you’ve developed because of your unique circumstances.
Many newly separated veterans and military spouses want to know how to write a resume with large gaps in employment. First and foremost – honesty is always the best policy, so never ever lie or try to avoid the conversation. In fact, we’ve got some great tips for how to explain employment gaps in interviews. But you’ve got to win an interview before you can have that conversation, right?
Here are a few tips to help minimize the visual impact of employment gaps on your resume and increase the chances of getting that interview.
Choose the right resume format to meet your needs. A combination resume provides your skills and qualifications before your work history. A functional resume lists your most valuable skills and how you’ve applied them in various roles, forgoing most of the traditional work history details altogether.
If you opt for a conventional resume format, use just the years of employment rather than full dates. Smaller gaps in your resume won’t stand out quite so much this way.
Many people worry about how to account for gaps in resumes when they don’t really have any gaps at all. What about the non-paid work you were involved in between jobs? Did you volunteer, pursue a degree, hone your technical skills, get certified in a new state? There’s no rule that says only paid work is relevant to your job search.
Once you know how to mention a career gap in your resume, you can turn what many see as a negative into a marketable attribute.
Arrive to your interview prepared with some awesome talking points about the upside to your employment gap. Explanations for a work history with breaks don’t have to be elaborate. They just have to be honest. We love this article from the Muse with tips for using an employment gap to make you more marketable, instead of less.
How do you explain a gap in employment? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you just focus on all you’ve learned as a result of the factors that required you to take a break from work in the first place.
Military life helps you develop some seriously marketable skills. Every military moment prepares you for work in ways that civilians can’t easily comprehend. So, during your interview, play up the skills required to make it as a military family.
Don’t let gaps in your resume get you down. If you’re asked about a gap in your employment, just be honest. Your poise under pressure will reassure the interviewer that you’re confident and capable, just like the employee they’re looking to hire!