Gaps on Resumes – Mums the Word

A gap on your resume can be disastrous but why?  Because it’s an indication I have children.

I heard a HR Manager proclaim that she (yes, she) would throw a resume in the bin if she thought the candidate had children.  I was shocked at this brash claim but not surprised.  What this statement has done, however, is make me approach gaps on resumes with creativity and boldness in an attempt to at least have the document read.

So what should I put?  This is highly debatable and like all resume formats completely subjective.  In fact I find everyone has an opinion!  I personally believe that the best way to present yourself in the most marketable way (sorry, I know we are people but the marketing concepts work so well with job search) is completely individual.

However, having said that, please don’t ignore the gap either.  Be creative, describe clearly how you meet the criteria for the role.  Include experiences that demonstrate you have been active during the gap e.g. voluntary community roles, study or research you have undertaken, school and kindergarten activities.

So what are the options?

  1. Put in experiences that demonstrate relatable transferable skills.I know wrangling two children under the age of two requires many transferable skills but they are not relatable to a potential employer.  However, skills such as managing a budget for a school committee or developing a marketing campaign to promote a Community event are.
  2. Highlight your skills using functional headings with demonstrable examples of when you have successfully delivered outcomes using these skills.The highly contentious functional resume has a bad reputation.  I have read articles that argue that functional resumes cause recruiters and hiring managers to be suspicious, like you are trying to hide something.  I agree the idea is to engage the reader in a different way and if it means I do this rather than having my document being put in the bin immediately, then I say use it.
  3. Mix up the format to include lists of demonstrable skills and work history.If this document is designed to promote our capabilities then use whatever format does this in the best way.  A great way to do this is with a profile at the beginning of the document that clearly demonstrates how you will add value to the organisation.
  4. Tailor, tailor, tailor. Tailor your resume to your audience every single time.  Consider what they want to hear and demonstrate how you have it.
  5. Make it easy to read. I think the best resumes are attractive to the eye.  This means not too much text and lots of white space with relatable and relevant content.
  6. Network. The resume’s only task is to get us interviews because interviews are how we get hired. The most effective way to avoid the application process and having our document discarded immediately is to talk with people we already know.  Networking is a great way to get in front of people without solely relying on a document to promote us.

In conclusion, my greatest tip is to think laterally and defy the naysayers who will tell you that you must portray your capabilities in a classic format.  Be creative, be bold and make the connections between what you have and what they need. You can always speak to a career counsellor about getting started.

Posted by Felicity McLaughlin

This is the latest in a series of articles about career development for women. If you would like to discuss your own career options, please contact Bravo Consulting about how we can help you achieve your career goals.

BonnieSue Nevin

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