The employment gap.
Most resumes have them, especially with the job market the way it is in Northern California.
Yet, any time you have an employment gap on your resume, a prospective employer is going to ask you what you were doing and why you weren’t working.
Whether it is because your past job closed down, you changed jobs, or you were fired, they want an explanation.
As a Millennial job seeker, you’re already fighting against the common misconceptions (i.e. Millennials lack focus), and you don’t need an employment gap solidifying those misconceptions.
To fix employment gaps, you need to be savvy, something Millennials naturally come equipped with these days.
Also, you don’t need to dwell on those holes or worry that you have a few. As long as you can show professionalism and explain those job hopping moments, you can stay ahead of the competition.
5 Tips For Closing Employment Gaps
1. Do Not Draw Attention To The Gaps In Your Resume
You may have employment gaps, but you don’t need to announce it in your resume blatantly. Instead, create a functional resume.
According to Nicole Fallon Taylor at Business News Daily, the functional style will display your skills and talents and show how you used those skills. It is the ideal resume for those who have job-hopped in the past or those with significant employment gaps.
The goal is to sell yourself on your skills and expertise, rather than the chronological order of your experience.
2. Show The Employer What You Were Doing
Even if you have not been working for a few weeks, months, or years, you can show the employer what you were doing with your free time.
Demonstrate any non-traditional activities you might have undertaken, such as volunteer work, continuing education courses, unpaid internships, travel, or even being a caregiver to the family.
Susan Heathfield at The Balance suggests staying active in professional associations too. Attend their meetings, go to conferences, and try out a few training sessions just to look productive.
3. Discuss The Circumstances Of Your Lay Off
Plenty of industries were hit hard in 2016 for Northern California. In fact, tech industry layoffs in the Bay Area doubled during the first quarter of 2016, according to San Francisco Business Times. Other large companies, including healthcare and newspaper companies, also had layoffs in the northern region.
So, it wouldn’t be a surprise to a prospective employer to have a few applicants that were laid off. Regardless, they will ask you about your experience, what happened, and any feedback that you received from your employer. They may inquire as to why you were let go specifically.
An employer may focus on your contributions up until you were let go as well, to see if it was an easy choice for the company to make. To help prove your worth, provide references from the company that let you go (if you have any).
4. Highlight Takeaway Skills From Personal Projects
If you take on personal projects, those can transfer into your work ethic skillset. For example, your ability to be organized, stay on task, and even stick to a budget can transfer into how you would work for someone.
Highlight these skills during the interview and play them up. Make sure the employer knows you are organized, like charts, or even balance your checkbook to show your attention to detail.
5. Always Be Honest
While employment gaps are red flags, they are by no means a reason to hide something from a prospective employer. Instead, you need to be honest. If you have been job hopping just to pay the bills, let the hiring manager know.
When you send in your resume, you could also write a cover letter that explains your employment gaps. That way the HR specialist already knows why you have time away from the workforce ahead of time.
Employment Gaps Don’t Have To Be Detrimental
As long as you know how to handle them, employment gaps are not as negative as you think. While you will be questioned about them, answering honestly and having an explanation ready is your best defense.
Do not assume an employer hasn’t met a Millennial with a job gap and don’t automatically think receiving questions about your gaps is a bad thing.
Just be yourself, enjoy the interview, and highlight what skill sets you bring to the table that make you the ideal candidate.