Writing up your resume is a daunting and frustrating task at times, but it can become a real panic situation if you have gaps in your work experience or lack qualifications. You may even have left a previous employment on bad terms. Having a blemish on your resume isn't any reason to feel you can't aim for another good job, and there are ways to spin your resume to make it (and you) look attractive to a potential employer.
Large, hard-to-explain gaps in your work history from periods in your life where you were unemployed can be corrected in a manner of ways. You certainly can minimize the damage gaps do to your chances of getting a job.
The first thing to do with your resume is to measure time spent on a job in years, rather than months. When noting the length of time you spent at a company, show the year you began the job and the year you left, rather than showing the year and the month.
Sometimes, people leave the workforce for a number of years, for a wide variety of reasons. Raising children is a good example of why many women tend to have years of no work history on their resume. Extensive travel is another, freelance ventures, or taking courses and getting some education are other reasons you may have gaps in your employment experience.
Don't be afraid to explain the reasons that you weren't employed, and in fact, each of these reasons taught you certain skills or brought you qualifications and maturity that will be a bonus for any company. Even if you took time off work to do absolutely nothing, try to find some sort of explanation for the period of time, such as getting back on your feet and restructuring your life.
The opposite situation that causes employers reading your resume to raise an eyebrow is having too many jobs, reflecting that you've been moving from one company to another at an accelerated pace. Going from company to company or touching on many types of jobs is known as job hopping, and potential employers get the impression you may not be around at their company for long.
As with gaps in your work history, note the time spent on the job in years rather than months, to try and fool the eye into thinking you stayed at jobs longer than you really did. Noting things in years will also help to try and focus your resume on your skills rather than your experience and erase any jobs that were too short term to make any real impact on your work history.
Limited qualifications, be they in training, education, or experience can also present a problem for your resume. In this situation, you'll want to emphasize your experiences other than conventional qualifications, along with whatever qualifications you do meet, while writing your resume and attending a job interview. Additionally, emphasizing skills over experience will also help your resume.
Never lie about a situation or gloss over a bad past, such as leaving a previous employer's company on bitter terms. You're not obligated to let a potential employer contact a past one, but should you have a tarnished work history, be prepared to answer questions as to why you left the job and under what circumstances.
Remember one thing, if this is your situation: You don't have to tell your employer the full reasons for leaving, and you can spin the happenings around, bringing out the positive things you learned in your previous job. Be subtle with anything you put on your resume that you're trying to spin into something attractive, and be as honest as you can, all the while giving out the best information possible and holding back what might cost you the job.
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John Edmond owns and writes regularly for Careerbuilder Jobs where you can find more information and advice on all aspects of a careers and a job searching.
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