Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Unemployment gaps and related resume problems, part 2

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on April 1, 2010

The current unemployment rate in the United States has been disturbingly high for well over a year now and this same situation can also be found in a great many other countries as well. We have been experiencing what is sometimes called a jobless recovery and that means a great many people are still looking, who have found their updated resumes have gaps in them and other issues they see as causes for concern. On the one hand, the simple fact that so many are in this situation for reasons clearly unrelated to their skills or job performance should limit the impact of these gaps. But at the same time, when there are five or more times as many people looking for work as there are job openings, any significant, avoidable blemish or question mark on a resume is a cause for concern.

I put up a first posting on unemployment gaps and related resume problems on this blog just under two weeks ago and quickly saw the number of views for it jump way up. I knew this to be an important issue for a lot of people and the level of interest I saw in this posting as offering advice on how to deal with it simply confirmed that. I decided to add some more to this important topic and here is my part 2 continuation.

The real issue of concern here is that a resume should tell a positive story as to why this job candidate is the right one for this job. It should not raise questions or sow doubts. Gaps in employment and the other issues I touched upon in my earlier posting do that and I wrote of limiting their impact in my first posting. But what if you have been experiencing rejections and facing seeming dead ends because of these problems?

What should you do if you feel you have been turned down because of gaps, and even at the initial resume screening? How can you break out of a rut that has developed from sending basically the same problematical resume out with only minor changes, and how can you more compellingly tell your story as to what you have to offer?

This is an important issue for way too many of us and its impact can be widespread and very damaging. Repeated instances of losing out on a chance to get a foot in the door to prove ourselves can be tremendously demoralizing, breaking our momentum and sapping our energy to move forward in our search. Getting out of this type of rut means taking a series of specific remediation steps.

• First of all, if your resume and cover letters are not working and if they are failing you with consistency, and you think it is because of gaps and other question raisers, you need to completely rewrite your resume.
• Get feedback on this – you probably need a mentor who can objectively look at your resume and at your cover letters and help you to tell your story more effectively. It is not that you don’t have an effective story to tell, but rather that you need help drawing it out and finding out how to convincingly present it.
• Look for a career coach, and ideally for someone with experience working with people in your industry and functional area that you seek a new position in.
• Step back and go through the self assessment exercises to make sure you are targeting positions that would really work for you, as you set yourself up to fail if you simply look for positions without a focus.
• Get out of the house and recharge your batteries – get involved with other people doing something meaningful to you for at least a portion of your time and on a regular basis to help you reach an emotional and mental equilibrium again. And look at your gaps and in how you can address them with the less stressed eyes this type of recharging can help you reach.

I wrote in an earlier posting about professional resume writers and bring this type of resource up again here. I am very specifically not suggesting that you simply let someone else write your resume for you as it is vitally important that your resume to be your resume and genuinely about you. But a fresh pair of eyes and experience laying out the right types of details in a well formatted resume can really help find new ways to present your story. This can help you get out of the rut of simply sending out variations on that old resume that you already know is not working for you.

Remember the cover letters here – you want your cover letters to connect to and support your presentation in your new resumes as you focus on those job leads, and not simply draw you back into the rut of your old resume. Look to reworking and updating your basic job search strategy and how you conduct specific job search campaigns in it.

This is not easy. You have to be systematic and you have to follow through consistently to make this work and to succeed in your search, but that applies whether you have resume gaps and other question raising issues in your work history or not. And as a final thought I will repeat a point I touched on above. Work to maintain your morale as you work to find and land that next job as this will really help make your search success possible.

4 Responses

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  1. […] • Unemployment Gaps and Related Resume Problems • Unemployment Gaps and Related Resume Problems, part 2 […]

  2. […] present yourself as a candidate if you have significant unemployment gaps in your work history and part 2. I have also posted a subseries on jumpstarting your search, as entries 47 to 50 in the Guide. And […]

  3. […] • Unemployment Gaps and Related Resume Problems, • Unemployment Gaps and Related Resume Problems, part 2 […]

  4. […] employment gaps and multiple short-term positions: Unemployment Gaps and Related Resume Problems, Unemployment Gaps and Related Resume Problems, part 2, Multiple Brief Jobs and Related Resume Problems and group and organize your specific positions and […]


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