In today’s economy, with double digit inflation still the case in many states and the national average just under double digits (March 2010), many job seekers wonder what to do with their resume in terms of period of unemployment. It’s a fair question, and it’s driven in large part by past perceptions about unemployment. In the past, any significant unemployment time was often seen as a reflection of the person – the thinking went something like this: “if they were that good, they wouldn’t have been laid off” or “if they were that good, they wouldn’t have been unemployed for that long”. At one point in our nation’s history, this may have had some truth to it; in today’s world, it often doesn’t have any truth to it.

As a job seeker, you convey what you feel. If you feel negatively about a gap on your resume, you will convey that to a potential employer. We all know what the likely result of that will be. Instead, let’s turn this around: most people who pay attention to what’s been happening in our economy (and that would include most hiring managers) know that finding a position in the current economy is extremely challenging, even for the most qualified of applicants. Thus, the gap has less relevance and most people understand it. Should it be discussed? Of course. The gap could’ve been because you were in jail. An employer would probably want to know that. Or, you could’ve been taking care of a sick relative. Plausible. So, it’s not something to hide; it’s something to explain – in brief.

Brevity matters here. As the population of unemployed job seekers continues to grow in some places and hold steady in others, many job seekers are becoming very creative with their resumes. By itself, that’s fine and probably a good thing; after all, employers want to hire creative people who take reasonable initiative. On the other hand, there is a downside: in trying to explain any gaps in employment, many are going way overboard. In this case, unless asked, less is more. During your time of unemployment, in addition to seeking new employment, did you take a course in your field or in another field that would be of value to a new employer? Did you in fact take care of a sick relative? There is likely something that you’ve been doing besides looking for employment, and that something (or things) will fill that gap, and will hopefully add value to your resume. Gap explained. Problem solved. No need to fret about this any longer, and thus no reason to be down about it.

Obviously, if you have a lot of gaps and/or large gaps, these require more explanation as this is a huge red flag to a potential employer. Having said that: many in this economy have been laid off more than once; perfectly understandable so long as it’s handled well on the resume.

Hopefully, this information will help you to overcome any negative attitude that you may have about gaps and help you realize how they are not necessarily as big an issue as many believe.

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Author's Bio: 

Michael Trust, MPA, SPHR-CA, is a Certified Career Coach and a Certified Executive Career Coach, who helps people find their passion and fulfill their dreams as they relate to careers through his organization, Trustworthy Coaching, Mr. Trust’s Coaching, Business, and Human Resources experience spans twenty years, and he has had major roles in staffing in all of his Human Resource positions. In addition, he has coached individuals at all career levels relative to their career paths, job search strategies, business strategies, and related areas. Mr. Trust is also a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF).