Let me first say that having employment gaps is not the end of the world, nor does it mean that you, as a candidate, are damaged goods. Most candidates, even Executive level candidates, have been laid off or terminated at one point or another. Some have voluntarily left a position without somewhere else to go to, ( a practice I highly discourage unless it is a desperate situation) or a victim of circumstances out of their control.
However, having employment gaps on your resume can be a problem. Leaving gaps on your resume opens up many questions about your background, and it allows the reader to jump to conclusions about you without even giving you the chance to explain. Unfortunately, neither you or I as your recruiter are not going to have the luxury of sitting there explaining the gaps as the VP of sales reads your resume. So it is best to explain in short sentences why there is a gap in employment. It can be a subtle one line explanation or it could be an asterisk followed by an explanation at the end of the resume.
I have recently worked with a candidate who has been on medical leave for the past two years. He recently was medically cleared to return to work. On his resume, he indicated that he had not been working since Dec 2016. When I asked him about the gap in employment, he explained his circumstances and we put a one line disclaimer on his resume. He has had several interviews since, and is very close to a job offer. Prior to the disclaimer, he had not had a single interview in eight months! The reason? People came to the conclusion that he was not a strong candidate because he had been out of work for nearly two years, and nobody wanted to hire him.
Now keep in mind that I am NOT advocating putting an explanation as to why you left each and every job. We’ll explore that at a later time. But if you have a solid explanation as to gaps on the resume, i.e. illness, medical leave, family illness, spouse transfer, etc., you should put the reason on the resume and alleviate any doubt about your background. It also demonstrates that you can rebound from a negative situation and be a productive member of that VP’s sales team. And be positive. Get your resume out there!
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