First, know that the gap is not the issue. The issue is that they want to dig in to find out what happened. If it’s a solid explanation, it tends to favor a non-issue situation. Usually they don’t even care if it’s less than 6 months in length. They’re trying to minimize their exposure to invalid candidates and these vetting questions help in the determination.
Do not remove employment dates. Recruiters and hiring managers need to know what you did and when. Removing dates only makes more work for them and you do not want to be blacklisted for little things like this. Recruiters and hiring managers know how this trick works these days.
Do remove dates on your degrees. This is purely for the sake of relevance. If you’re out of school after about 5 years, you can leave those off from your education section.
Do not list your entire life story. Focus on relevance and more importantly, recent experience. Your resume is not an autobiography as everyone has been told and should know by now! No one cares about work with IBM in the 1990’s. Sad and simple fact. Plus, your resume would run 5 pages long! So trim the fat to keep it to 2 pages maximum. This is your sales sheet so sticking to what matters will make you a more viable candidate. The most recent experience, usually the past 10 years, is what they want to know most. Anything older than 10 years and not directly related to the current role can be removed. You can list the title and company in an ?Previous Work History (Prior to 2010)” section if you wish, but there?s no need to add details, just list the title, company name and location.
The best advice is to target your resume towards the job you’re applying for. Ensure the resume highlights the experience you have that?s transferable and relevant towards the job opening. This will take some time and you will have multiple versions of the resume, which is fine. Gone are the days of Jack and Jill of all trades. Hiring managers and recruiters want niche employees in most cases.
List relevant and newer software or technology aptitude. This shows you’re up-to-date with current technology and monitoring trends some by including the latest programs and apps you know how to use and removing dated technology.
List social media links (in a hyperlink format in the contact section) because this does show you’re connected. I always advise on LinkedIn at the bare minimum.
Some more general tips:
Try to fill in the gap with anything relating towards your new role that you may have executed on a project, volunteer or freelance type basis. You can list it as a self-employed role with actual accomplishments underneath.
Remove months from your employment and see if the gaps alleviate at all. Sometimes you leave in June and start work in December…removing the months immediately shows a seamless and linear work history.
If you went back to school or something educational, put that in as a space filler. Have it emulated like the rest of your work from a layout standpoint.
Focus on a Combination Resume. This helps weave in those items from the 90s. I always lean on the combinational for my clients and here’s why. I like to have their resume explain the accomplishments first ahead of the experience. This helps excite the hiring manager AND helps older jobseekers to bring forth maybe some nice accomplishments from beyond 10 years, without having to rely on that verbiage being listed at the bottom under a dated job. If that accomplishments relates directly to the job target, use it in your accomplishments section! Than you can just leave that job where you earned that accomplishment under a section titled “Previous Work History” (again where all jobs fall under once it’s been 10 years). So the general layout would be a summary, some skills, the accomplishments, the experience, and then the education/certification/affiliation/volunteerism type section.
Keep it pragmatic, concise and with bottom-line driven content, and those gaps will not weigh as heavy. Accomplishments over tasks, how do you add value to the hiring manager? What pain points will you alleviate by filling the open requisition? If hiring managers are not crinkling their foreheads when reading your resume, you’re halfway there, now it’s just a matter if you fit the role. Your resume is a breathing, living thing — continue to tweak it towards new role interests and update it with new jobs, skills, education, all of it!
And if it’s something very personal, save it for the coverletter, not the resume. The coverletter is the only place you can use personal pronouns and show some personality. Outside of a few soft skills that resonate in the resume’s summary, the resume is to remain professional. But the coverletter will enable you to speak, VERY BRIEFLY, about any circumstances you feel are going to hinder you due to the gap’s exposure. Just don’t overshare and disqualify yourself before they even open the resume. If you’re not sure about it, than leave it out of the coverletter all together and save the narrative for the screening interview.
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