Hide Your Unemployment with These Resume Tricks

December 29, 2011  |  

It’s a proven fact that the longer you’re out of work, the harder it is to find work. It’s one of those catch 22 situations where those who need new jobs the most are often put out of the running because long periods of unemployment look bad on a resume. The idea behind it is that if you haven’t been able to find a job for several months with no explanation, something must be wrong with you. Still, in this economy long term unemployment is a real problem. So what do you do if it’s been a few months and you still haven’t found work? Well, the first order of business is to make sure your resume doesn’t scream “I’ve been out of work for a long time.” That means getting rid of any big blocks of unexplained breaks in your employment history.

One way you can do that is by adding in any volunteer positions or classes you took during your employment gap. Hence, if you’re currently unemployed and haven’t tried volunteering, you might want to get going on that. Listing your work at the Red Cross alongside the paying work draws attention away from the holes in your work history.In fact, you should consider not using the traditional chronological resume at all. Instead, have your resume list only three or four of your previous positions in order of most relevant. Highlight your accomplishments and responsibilities in each position instead of the dates of employment.

If you have an explanation for your work gap, such as illness or a cross-country move, you can’t necessarily put it on your resume. However, you can use your cover letter to allude to the fact that you have a valid reason for being off the grid for so long. For example, you might use something like this in your cover letter if you made a big move: I was excited to see your recent job opening because I feel like it would be the perfect way to break into the new job market in New Jersey. And, when you get the interview, be sure to have a ready answer that paints your long-term unemployment in a positive light.

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