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Employment gaps


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Old 18th March 2014, 4:14 PM   #1
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Employment gaps

So I am always wondering about the "explain employment gaps" question on an application. Is it to explain any period of time when you weren't working, even if only a month? Or is it mostly if you're taking a considerable amount of time off of working that they are wondering about? I've always been going to school or doing freelance work during any small periods of time I wasn't working, but I have no major gaps. I was laid off my last job and what else am I supposed to say other than I haven't been working, because I was laid off and have been looking for other work? Insights please.
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Old 18th March 2014, 4:28 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by pink_sugar View Post
So I am always wondering about the "explain employment gaps" question on an application. Is it to explain any period of time when you weren't working, even if only a month? Or is it mostly if you're taking a considerable amount of time off of working that they are wondering about? I've always been going to school or doing freelance work during any small periods of time I wasn't working, but I have no major gaps. I was laid off my last job and what else am I supposed to say other than I haven't been working, because I was laid off and have been looking for other work? Insights please.
I always put - "will discuss during interview as applicable."

I hate the "so why did you leave your last job?" question....
Sadly, I was 'let go' from my last position, a situation I naturally considered unfair, and would have taken further, but for the fact my time there had been too brief.

I mean, how do you tell a prospective employer, about that....?
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Old 19th March 2014, 8:50 AM   #3
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To me it really depends on the level you are at, what you are apply for, etc. Big picture, I don't think a few months matter. I also think that with the downturn in the economy a few years ago seeing gaps has become the norm so they aren't highlighted as much. Even in the early 2000's, when I was working entry level jobs, I had month gaps between jobs at times and things were never questioned.

For us, it really depends. If it is a year or less, we don't pay a lot of attention to it and/or the recruiter will ask in the phone interview if the resume as a whole looks good. If it a few years, we will want to know more information and may pass on the resume if there is nothing highlighted in there. If there was any education/free lance/volunteer work done during that period having that highlighted is very helpful.

If you are truly concerned, have you thought about going the route of an external recruiting company? they can help you with this and help you "sell" yourself to potential employers.
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Old 19th March 2014, 11:38 PM   #4
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To me it really depends on the level you are at, what you are apply for, etc. Big picture, I don't think a few months matter. I also think that with the downturn in the economy a few years ago seeing gaps has become the norm so they aren't highlighted as much. Even in the early 2000's, when I was working entry level jobs, I had month gaps between jobs at times and things were never questioned.

For us, it really depends. If it is a year or less, we don't pay a lot of attention to it and/or the recruiter will ask in the phone interview if the resume as a whole looks good. If it a few years, we will want to know more information and may pass on the resume if there is nothing highlighted in there. If there was any education/free lance/volunteer work done during that period having that highlighted is very helpful.

If you are truly concerned, have you thought about going the route of an external recruiting company? they can help you with this and help you "sell" yourself to potential employers.
Thanks for the insight here. I was hoping small gaps wouldn't be frowned upon too much. I always highlight my freelance work (one is my dad's company and I help him from time to time, so I keep that on there as present) and I also put down my volunteer work. I've actually got a plentiful amount of interviews scheduled this week, so it doesn't seem like my 3 month gap is too big of a deal, thankfully. External recruiting are temporary agencies, right? I did visit a few and I've gotten some help with resume writing as well as find out things such as my WPM speed with their tests. However, a lot of the ones I've applied to were up front about not having too much available in the way of my field of work (IT/Online Marketing), but I have gotten contacted by some recruiting agencies that have found my resume online that specialize in hiring for tech companies, which are helpful.
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Old 20th March 2014, 1:14 AM   #5
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I generally think this question is stupid because there are two most common reasons for gaps. Either you had to tend to a personal matter that is none of their business or you were looking for work. Regardless of what the real reason was in my case I explain every single gap with the generic "I was actively seeking employment." I used to state that I was focusing on school when that was applicable, but I found a number of employers responded negatively to that so I stopped mentioning school at all in most cases.
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Old 20th March 2014, 11:10 AM   #6
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If there are gaps, be honest about why. In school, give course of study, and grades. If under the table work, list who you worked for and what you did. If you worked temp jobs for an agency, list them.


A big red flag is when someone lists times like 12 months, 18 months or 24 months. That indicates jail time, which I would like to know prior to hiring someone, I will say I probably will not hire you if have done jail time. We have keys and access codes to some of our accounts. We work in some of our accounts after hours and I need to be confident that a new hire is not casing the joint. But I have hired for part-time supervised work. But only after talking to the PO. One young fellow, was on parole, after talking to him, his mother and his parole officer, I determined his conviction was bogus and he worked several months.
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Old 20th March 2014, 11:52 AM   #7
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I know this is going to sound awful but honestly just lie.. say u worked for someone that was self employed (they cant check anything) then do you own reference (set up a new email address) or say u were out the country... my CV is full of holes but I just cover them up! x I know I work hard, turn up on time, work to my fullest so if I have to tell a few porkies to get the job then so be it x
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Old 20th March 2014, 12:42 PM   #8
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Your resume doesn't need to reflect all of your employment gaps...

A good resume should list relevant work experience first and foremost. Listing your job history in chronological order only makes sense if you've been in the same line of work your whole life. Even then, some work experience may be more relevant to the position you're applying for- and even if it was something you did five years ago, you definitely want to highlight that experience first in your work history.

When you set your resume up this way, it makes it more difficult to recognize employment gaps. Any irrelevant work experience can go at the end under "further work experience", with little detail.

You can fudge gaps if you're worried about it- although unless it's a glaring pattern of short lived jobs and big gaps, I don't see it as something a potential employer would pay attention to.
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Old 20th March 2014, 2:42 PM   #9
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When I was in-between employment, I volunteered part-time to keep my skills fresh and to gain further experience. I also took a few classes in computer related fields.

It can be extremely difficult to land a job when you're not already employed. Some employers consider someone unemployed as not valuable/not in high demand. It's unfortunate but sadly a fact of life in the business world.

Having said that, I would frame your responses around your career objectives and achievements during your down time. Above all, stay focused and confident and keep plugging away.
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Old 20th March 2014, 3:37 PM   #10
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I never knew listing being a full time student could be a negative. For freelance/under the table work, I usually just give references. I agree that a resume should only reflect relevant work experience. I worked several odd jobs to support myself through school and the only time I will list those is on a formal employment application. As for employers not liking the unemployed, if only they knew how many other interested employers call me each week. It just takes time due to the high unemployment rate these days.
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Old 21st March 2014, 11:01 PM   #11
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I never knew listing being a full time student could be a negative. For freelance/under the table work, I usually just give references. I agree that a resume should only reflect relevant work experience. I worked several odd jobs to support myself through school and the only time I will list those is on a formal employment application. As for employers not liking the unemployed, if only they knew how many other interested employers call me each week. It just takes time due to the high unemployment rate these days.
Yes, being a full time student can be a hindrance when applying for jobs, because it reflects that your availability will most likely be an issue.

Again, not something you have to mention if you have reasonable availability- you can always say you're a part time student.
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Old 22nd March 2014, 12:35 AM   #12
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Yes, being a full time student can be a hindrance when applying for jobs, because it reflects that your availability will most likely be an issue.

Again, not something you have to mention if you have reasonable availability- you can always say you're a part time student.
That is a good point, I have left a few jobs due to going back to school.

On a positive note, I got a job offer today. It's only part time, but I'm halfway through the 6 months of unemployment, so it's a big relief. It's also fairly decent paying and in my field of work. I can take more time looking for a full time job now that I have some leverage and secure another part time telecommuting job in the meantime. (I have an interview for such a position on Monday).
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Old 22nd March 2014, 4:43 AM   #13
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So I am always wondering about the "explain employment gaps" question on an application. Is it to explain any period of time when you weren't working, even if only a month? Or is it mostly if you're taking a considerable amount of time off of working that they are wondering about? I've always been going to school or doing freelance work during any small periods of time I wasn't working, but I have no major gaps. I was laid off my last job and what else am I supposed to say other than I haven't been working, because I was laid off and have been looking for other work? Insights please.
Tell them it is just frictional unemployment and if they don't understand what that means, hand them an economic's 101 textbook and that they can thank you later
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Old 22nd March 2014, 11:59 AM   #14
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Actually this is something I've wondered about as well, but for a different reason:

A few years ago I stopped working due to excessive stress which turned into anxiety so I stopped working. During the past few years my depression and anxiety was elevated badly... eventually I was fed up with it and tried to take steps to get better. Now I am finally seeking employment again, but how do you explain the huge gap?
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Old 22nd March 2014, 6:18 PM   #15
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Actually this is something I've wondered about as well, but for a different reason:

A few years ago I stopped working due to excessive stress which turned into anxiety so I stopped working. During the past few years my depression and anxiety was elevated badly... eventually I was fed up with it and tried to take steps to get better. Now I am finally seeking employment again, but how do you explain the huge gap?
Having anxiety issues myself, I know what you mean. I agree with another poster that personal reasons are none of an employer's business, so I would leave it at that. Are you on any anxiety medication? It really helps me.
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