Mind the Gap

It used to be that people would find a job and stay there forever and ever until retirement.  That has not been the case for quite some time.  Today’s American workforce is likely to experience more job changes than even a generation ago.  There are many factors affecting this relatively recent societal trend, but a major one is the economy, which has experienced a lot of turbulence over the past decade.  Many organizations have been forced to cut payroll, downsize, merge or close.

What does this look like on a resume?

Traditionally, this would look like unreliable job-hopping.  Potential employers would assume that the candidate was inept, selfish, or must have a personality problem.  Nowadays, frequent job changes, or stints of temporary employment, are normal and acceptable.

What should you do if you’re worried that a company might think negatively?

First of all, I cringe when candidates tell me that they’ve been advised to omit certain jobs, or fudge dates of employment, to hide a gap.  Companies are legally allowed to call former employers to confirm this information.  Generally, hiring managers are a lot more understanding of extenuating circumstances than a perceived deliberate cover up.  They’re realizing that a lot of good employees have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.  With free time forced upon them, people may decide to explore a new career, go back to school, travel, or simply decompress while spending quality time with loved ones before returning to work.

I’m in favor of including all jobs, temp assignments, projects, contract work, volunteer work and schooling, (and designate each as such), on the resume itself.  A full explanation can be provided during an interview, and a recruiter can guide you on how to best present each situation.

Unless, of course, you really are inept, selfish, or have a personality problem. 😉