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Career Series Part 7 – Managing the Resume Gap

Career Series Part 7 – Managing the Resume Gap
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Illustration by Sarah Stevens

BY STEVE NUBIE

What to Do When You’ve Been Unemployed for 6 Months or More.

For many people 50 and over unemployment can last for years. Here’s the reality of what that means and what you can do about it.

There was a time when a gap in your work history was a red flag to potential employers. The good news is that most hiring managers don’t see a gap in employment as a negative. The bad news is that going without work for any period of time creates significant issues related to cash flow and a drain on your savings.

I served as an Executive Coach and career counselor for 7 years. I had seen many people who were 50+ who had gaps in their employment history. These gaps ranged from 6 months to 2 years and more. Some had actually given up on the idea of full-time work. My advice was to stay the course and keep looking. The inevitable question was, “Look where?”

The fact of the matter is that many companies have made a renewed commitment to hiring people 50 years and over. And it’s not about retail jobs that pay minimum wage. Here’s a list of companies and organizations committed to this initiative. Each is hot linked to their career websites. Most invite you to register. You should definitely do so. They will send you emails when you match or qualify for a position. It may not be the position you are seeking but that’s up to you.

But it’s not just about applying to companies who have professed an interest in mature professionals. Many companies need experienced people from startups to established corporations. What’s critical to understand is that you owe no apologies for a gap in your employment history. It’s unfortunately a fact of the job marketplace and hiring managers get it. It is not a negative reflection on you but a fact of a struggling economy.

I coached a woman once on how to fill a gap in her resume while she was raising her children. I told her to describe her job title as “Full-time Mom” and then we listed her responsibilities. It went something like this:

Managed health care and interactions with medical professionals on behalf of children while maintaining a household budget, interaction with educators and continuing issues related to maintenance of lifestyle and the needs of family.

It was a bit tongue-in-cheek but it brought down the house at her first interview and her hiring manager showed it to everyone at the company that eventually hired her. There’s no need to apologize for an employment gap. Think a bit creatively and fill the gap with what you were truly doing.

If you are concerned about a gap in your resume you could always identify yourself as a consultant working for other concerns. If you simply pursue the work as a consultant you can honestly make the claim. You could also volunteer for a charitable organization while pursuing employment. If you’re concerned about the gap this is a philanthropic way to fill it. Personally, I think you could simply say I enjoyed some time with my family and am now pursuing employment again. It’s not the big deal it once was.

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