How to Manage Career Blips, Bloops and Gaps on Your Resume

Are you someone whose career story includes, well, a few little bumps, bruises or less-than-stellar career decisions... that you wish you could simply wipe from your career history? If you are, understand this -- You're completely not alone. 

In fact, your competition may very well have similar gap issues on their resumes, especially considering we weathered a horrible economic downturn in recent years, and lots of people got laid off from jobs across that time period. 

Allow that to comfort you, but know that you still need to address those pesky dings and dents on your resume. 

What's the best way to do it?

My most basic advice for anyone trying to disguise or smooth over career gap, a weird career transition, something that may looks like (or is) a demotion, etc. is this:

Don't try to hide it.

When you try to pull a smoke and mirrors on the situation, a trained recruiter can almost always spot it. (At least this trained recruiter can.)

Instead, use a good offense. Your best defense is almost always a good offense. YES, the reviewer will likely raise an eyebrow over the exact thing you're worried she will raise an eyebrow over. So rather than just leaving it to chance , I recommend building wording right into a bullet point on your resume that quickly and accurately explains that situation you know they'll wonder about.

Here's An Example:

Say you had a high-powered ad agency job in Detroit and then, following your spouse's relocation to Seattle, you took a job as a receptionist at a yoga studio (because you couldn't find a high-powered ad agency job in Seattle right away). Once the studio owner realized you were good at marketing, she invited you do take over the social media marketing, in addition to your receptionist job.

You might be inclined to stay mum about the whole deal. Maybe you're embarrassed that you're not yet back in another high-powered agency job. Or, maybe you think it doesn't "count."

I say list it. Don't hide it, list it. It's way better to do so than to have a growing gap while you continue looking for the more permanent job. List that yoga studio as your current employer and lead with a statement that reads something like this:

Following a family relocation to Seattle, accepted an opportunity to support this rapidly growing fitness studio in maintaining client relationships and promoting the unique offerings of the business.

And then you can go on and highlight the specific things you've done with both client relations, and the in expanded marketing assignment blurb. By hitting the topic head on in this succinct, unapologetic way, you accomplish two things right away:

1. You make it instantly clear that your family relocated.

This implies that it was a group decision, and makes it obvious why you might not have an immediate high-powered ad agency job. You just moved clear across the country, for crying out loud.

2. You showcase the ways in which you're keeping highly relevant skills fresh.

Certainly for an ad agency professional, client relations and marketing skills are vital. So, if you point out how you're doing these things at the yoga studio, it will show the reviewer that you're leveraging your career capital, even through a temporary assignment.

This is just one quick example, but it shows you how readily you can clear something up that the reviewer would likely wonder about, by going on the offense.

Most often, you don't need to hide the blips, the bloops and the gaps. More so, you need to strategize. 

Need Help Strategizing on Other Scenarios?

Be sure and check out our just-launched Weekend Resume Makeover course. It's a 12-module, self-paced video course that will walk you step-by-step through the very same process our team uses in developing resumes for our clients. 

In one module, we cover (in detail) several specific scenarios that often create gaps or weirdness on your resume (layoff, lingering umemployment, time off for raising kids, etc.). 

Weekend Resume Makeover also includes resume templates, samples and worksheets that will come right in handy as you work. AND DID WE MENTION... the course is designed to take you start-to-finish in a weekend or less. No torture, just progress.

So, if you want or need a new resume in three days or less? Let's get you started. 

(EVEN BETTER? We're offering $40 off the course through June 30. Simply enter promo code JUNE40 at checkout.)


Photo: Flickr Creative Commons (Bill & Vicki T)

Jenny FossComment