As a professional resume writing service, Resume Poets® know exactly how to fill experience gaps and create a stand-out resume. In this article, however, we teach you how to do it. Keep in mind that your resume is, in many ways, an extension of you personally; it chronicles all of your professional and non-professional experiences. In short, your experiences have shaped the professional you’ve become. Don’t hide your experience gaps; embrace them. Show employers that your resume gaps were filled with experiences that’ll help you better succeed as their employee.
Unless you’re a newly minted college graduate, the experience section will be the most important part of your resume. It answers all of the questions that employers ask: What were your successes? How many other employees did you lead? What major projects were you part of? Will you succeed in my organization?
However, because of voluntary or involuntary reasons, most job seekers have a gap in their resume experience section. These gaps come from raising a family, starting a business, experiencing a layoff, trying a new career, travelling extensively, or other reasons. Believe it or not, experience gaps can actually help your resume succeed. Think about it – if you can show that your gap time better prepared you for the future, then you have experiences that other candidates don’t. You just turned lemons into lemonade, and employers notice.
Let’s talk about how to fill the experience gaps in your resume.
There are several other “experiences” you may include in your resume. You can include these topics to stand out to the hiring manager:
- Projects: Have you managed other projects by yourself or with others? As a student or job-seeker, you’ve completed many projects. You can include project details as an experience! This will fill the experience gaps and show employers that you’ve stayed productive. Mention your role, responsibilities, outcomes, and successes as a result of the project. Also, mention the critical issues you have faced and how you overcame them. How do you solve these issues? Just remember one thing: only include projects that relate to the job you’re currently seeking
- Seminars: Seminars are a kind of training where professionals network with each other and learn from industry experts. If they relate to the position you’re targeting, mention the seminars you’ve attended! Include the seminar title, date, time, and the speakers’ names/designations. Seminars are a great experience substitute that shows employers that you’ve stayed connected while searching for your next career move!
- Workshops: Workshops are similar to seminars. They’re a series of training sessions designed to hone in your technical skills. The main purpose of a workshop is “hands-on-experience.” Listing workshops shows employers that you’ve already received the necessary training. In other words, you’ll hit the ground running as their newest employee. Have you lead a workshop? If so, mention it! You’ll gain credibility with hiring managers and stand above your peers.
- Certifications: Certifications show expertise. They show that you’ve earned the right to practice a specific type of work. Many certification courses are available online, and you can easily find certifications that relate to your field. Because certifications show expertise and credibility in your profession, they’re a great way to fill your resume’s experience gaps.
- Training: Have you attended a hands-on training program to learn a specific task or service? If not, try participating in these live training opportunities. Training plays a vital role in building a strong professional resume. In addition, being around other professionals will expand your network and, possibly, lead to new career opportunities. Mention these training sessions to overcome experience gaps in your resume.
- Independent Research: Have you researched any current topics in your industry? Even better – have you published any of your research? Independent research is an excellent item to include in lieu of experience. If you’re seeking positions in academia such as “Lecturer” or “Professor,” independent research will be an even better addition to your professional resume.
- Internship: An internship is a formal program giving students a practical experience in a certain profession. Whether paid or unpaid, every budding professional should have this kind of experience. If you have any internship experience, include its details in your professional resume.
- Volunteer work: Have you volunteered in your community? How about in a position relevant to your target position? Volunteer work can be an excellent addition to a resume with experience gaps. Although employers value volunteer experience in a relevant field, including both can’t hurt. In fact, Resume Poets® encourages clients to write about their volunteer experience as if it were a job. Be sure to mention your role, key responsibilities, and key accomplishments.
When the hiring manager reviews your resume, she always reads the experience section first. It’s no secret that candidates with the most relevant experience attract the most attention. However, candidates with experience gaps can still stand out by emphasizing what they did during those gap times. If you do it right, the gap time will become a distinguishing characteristic on your resume, setting you apart from other candidates. This is true for young job seekers as well as for experienced professionals.
Technology makes it easier to get your resume in front of a hiring manager. The hard part is articulating why your professional experience, even with gaps, makes you uniquely qualified for the position. It can be challenging to do, but it’s not impossible.
One final thought: Never lie on a resume, even if you don’t have experiences to fill the gaps. Integrity is more important to hiring managers than relevant experience. It’s just not worth losing your professional reputation.