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Closing Gaps on Your Resume

Many people have gaps on their resumes due to relocation, career changes, layoffs or raising a family. Even though you may have frequent or long periods when you weren't working as a paid employee, you can adjust your resume to explain the gaps in a positive way.

Create a resume highlighting your strengths and minimizing the gaps. Usually, gaps of a few months are not an issue. However, you should explain longer periods away from the workplace.

Redefine the gap

Start by listing your activities and accomplishments during your time away from the workplace. Examples might include the following:

  • Volunteering for a nonprofit agency, an athletic program or your child's school
  • Volunteering as an intern to gain upward mobility, training and experience
  • Introducing new spouses to the area or new members to your organization
  • Coordinating command and community events
  • Developing brochures, newsletters or social media outreach communications to promote organizations and activities of interest
  • Mentoring, coaching and helping others set and reach their goals
  • Attending classes or seminars for personal growth and professional development

Highlight your previous successes and job duties to show potential employers how you are suited for the position. If you planned a move, located living quarters, settled your family, found doctors, restaurants and schools and built interpersonal relationships, you could highlight your organizational, interpersonal and planning skills. Show examples of marketing, sales, communications, money management or writing skills you have learned through owning a home business or writing a personal blog. If you have used high-demand software programs, be sure to highlight those skills.

Once you've organized your skills and abilities into categories, you can associate them with a job title. For example, if you helped promote nonprofit events, volunteered at school fundraising functions and contributed articles and content to newsletters or websites, you might use a 'marketing specialist' title to explain the work you've done during the gap.

Use the Self-Exploration section of the Career Exploration lifecycle stage of MySECO to find self-assessments that can help you match your skills to titles that might fit into your resume. In addition, you'll learn more about yourself and your potential employment opportunities by taking an assessment.

Adjust your resume

You can format your resume to make gaps look less striking. Some tips include the following:

  • Consider a functional resume format. Functional resumes focus on your skills and experience, rather than the chronological order of your employment history.
  • List years and not months when writing your work history. Do not be tempted to stretch or lie about dates to cover gaps between positions.
  • Title your sections appropriately. If you plan to use unpaid or volunteer position titles, label your employment section header 'Experience' or 'History' instead of 'Professional Experience' or 'Employment History.'

Get help reworking your resume

A SECO career coach can help you rework your resume so that you stand out as the best candidate in each job you apply for. Coaches provide a professional perspective and work with you to make sure your resume aligns perfectly with the job. Use this free resource to get expert advice on how to close gaps in your resume and showcase your skills to potential employers. You can have your resume reviewed by a SECO career coach on demand through email. You can also schedule an appointment with a SECO career coach from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST on Saturday.

Avoid future resume gaps

Continue to build your resume by volunteering, gaining additional education or certifications and improving skills between jobs. Target your efforts toward your possible career goals and track tasks, successes and accomplishments until you have found employment. Don't let resume gaps keep you from finding a job. Revamp your resume using suggestions in this article and speak to a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. Use the Live Chat feature on MySECO to find additional information on all aspects of your job search.

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