Gaps in Your Resume? Be Upfront About It!

Posted  |  by Elaine Varelas, Keystone Partners

This article appeared in The Boston Globe. Elaine Varelas is Chairman of the Board for Career Partners International and Managing Partner of Keystone Partners

Q. If a resume should be brief, how can I present myself to a prospective employer as someone who is employable? I have previous employers who have merged with out-of-state companies, or gone out of business. They cannot be contacted for references, so what do I put on my resume?


A. Resumes have evolved to help job seekers tell their stories as those stories have become more complicated.

With mergers and acquisitions, employees may have worked for multiple companies without changing their job, office, or desk chair. You may have been laid off from your last two or three jobs, and have gaps in employment. Successfully representing your value, contributions, and potential on a resume is the difference between telling the story of your skills and documenting time.

The description of each job can include a brief statement on the company at the beginning of the entry. Highlight longevity, promotion, and increased responsibility. Include quantifiable results achieved on the job. Show as many positive accomplishments as possible. At the end of the job description, add why you are no longer there. “Company acquired by NewCo; Reduction in Force of 20 percent.’’

Follow the same process for other jobs. Your goal is to make employers recognize that in job loss, lightning can strike twice. If they can get past that, you get closer to an interview.

References don’t all have to be bosses that are hard to track down. Find former supervisors who can speak to the work you did, and your value as an employee. Use LinkedIn to reconnect.

Prepare a second document for references. List the people you plan to use most often, including cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses. You can ask references to address the reasons you left your previous jobs and speak to why you would be a risk-free hire.

So answer the questions upfront. Show your ability to contribute. Provide results of what you did on the job, with backup from supervisors or colleagues. Show that losing a job doesn’t mean you won’t be a superstar when given the opportunity.

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