How to Put a Positive Spin on Your Employment Gaps

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How to Put a Positive Spin on Your Employment Gaps

Job gaps are a chapter of life that nearly all employed workers will experience at some time. For personal reasons, economic reasons, or other reasons, occasionally job gaps can be stigmatized by prospective hiring executives. In the proper light, however, you can turn those job gaps into effective, positive differentiators that prove your endurance, flexibility, and skills acquired. Here’s how to put a positive spin on your employment gaps into a powerful component of your professional story, complete with examples.

Embrace Your Employment Gaps

The primary and foremost step to making an employment gap work in your favor is to accept it.

Whether it be that you were at home raising a child, had taken a break to nurse a family member, were traveling, undertook other studies, or even utilized the time to address health concerns, an acceptance of these facts can actually make your resume more human and make you more relatable to potential employers.

Example: Sarah, a marketing professional, had, in fact, stayed at home for two years to care for aging parents.

Rather than try to disguise this break in her work history, she put it on her resume and explained skills she had gained as a care provider, like patience, time management, and empathy (all great “soft skills”).

These attributes translate into just about any career situation, and Sarah was using them to demonstrate her well-rounded abilities.

Emphasize Skill Development

Employment gaps can also be an opportunity to gain by way of experience, both personal and professional.

If you utilized that time to undertake some courses, learn a new skill, volunteer, or get involved in something that can contribute to your growth as an individual, mention those in your resume and cover letter.

Example: John, who worked as an information technology specialist, got laid off and experienced one year of unemployment.

During his unemployed year, John took online courses on cybersecurity, volunteered at a local non-profit by doing installations of secure networks for that non-profit, and attended seminars in his profession.

When he applied for new jobs, John was able to add to his resume his proactive measures to keep up with industry trends and his demonstration of lifelong learning.

Use Freelance and Independent Contract Work

Freelance and contract employment that is done in between jobs can demonstrate a lot of initiative and commitment on your part. 

You can also get diverse clients and projects which will be added to your resume as well as your professional portfolio. Highlighting this type of work can be a simple yet effective way to put a positive spin on your employment gaps. 

Example: Maria was a graphic designer who had freelanced for the past 18 months after she had moved to a new city.

She had been working with several small businesses in the city during that time, which allowed her to do website design and branding.

She also used these in her portfolio, which showcased her versatility and ability to meet the needs of several different clients.

It also showcased that she had worked actively in the past 18 months of her career, even if she was not in a traditional full-time job.

How to Put a Positive Spin on Your Employment Gaps

Emphasize Transferable Skills

Acknowledge that sometimes, the gaps in employment can translate into having diverse experiences in other areas or types of work.

Actually, demonstrate the skills you learned during your time off that may get transferred and be applied in the position you want to occupy at your disposal.

Example:  For instance, there was Alex, a former teacher who had taken three years out of the field to try to start a small business of his own.

Despite his business’s eventual failure, while it was in operation, Alex learned valuable life skills in project management, marketing, budgeting, and customer service.

When he returned to the field of education, Alex was able to use these skills as a foundation on which to show how they would work as a means to help augment his administrative and teaching skills.

Put A Positive Spin On The Gaps

When speaking of these gaps in interviews or in cover letters, frame the gaps positively. Talk instead of where you were able to travel during that time, not of the gap itself.

Example: Emily, a project manager, had been away for a year traveling and experiencing new and different cultures.

Rather than stating her travel experience, she stated how her year out helped her enhance her cultural learning , develop her problem-solving skills, and diversity in her capacity to work with all types of work teams.

Such a positive connotation said that her experience away from work was a learning experience and added to her professional value.


Network and Seek Recommendations

Networking can also work as a effective means of describing and justifying your employment gaps with a positive spin.

Ask for recommendations from those with whom you worked during the period of employment gap, which may include your freelance clients, volunteer coordinators, and even your course instructors.

Example: Raj, an engineer, took a leave of two years to complete his Master in Environmental Engineering.

In the interim, he volunteered with a few environmental organizations and managed to get a few projects completed.

He sought recommendations from his professors and volunteers’ coordinators, who could vouch for his hard work and skills.

Such recommendations helped cover up the gap in his work experience and added a good endorsement of his capability.

Demonstrate Resilience within the Gap

Sometimes, employment gaps can be due to trying times. Instead, make them a time of showcasing your strength and ability to thrive over hard times.

Most employers are looking for this characteristic since it lets them know that you can handle challenging times, can adjust, and respond even stronger.

Example:  Lisa, as a sales manager, had a debilitating health condition that left her with a large gap in employment.

She detailed, in her job applications what work she had undertaken to stay up-to-date with industry changes while she was unemployed.  She was then able to market her resilience, focus, and commitment to her career, taking what might be a detrimental gap and turning it into a tale of personal resilience and career determination.


Add the Context in Your CV

Having a small mention about the employment gaps in your resume itself can, in some way, provide some context for the prospective employers to work upon.

It can help in preventing some misunderstanding and in making you look as transparent with nothing to hide. Put it out there. Let them know there was a gap.

Example: Mark, a software engineer, had a layoff that led to a nine-month employment gap.

He wrote a brief note in his cover letter detailing the layoff and what he had been doing during the gap period, like making contributions to open-source projects and completing a cloud computing certification.

The honesty made the prospective employers visualize the gap and what he did to remain relevant in his field of career.


How to Put a Positive Spin on Your Employment Gaps


Reframe The Narrative

Reframing your story means shifting the emphasis from the gap to the growth and accomplishments during the gap period.

This can help you draft an engaging story concurrent with your career objective.

Example: Laura had a two-year break from a position as a financial analyst to start a family.

She did so by highlighting the financial planning and budgeting skills she acquired during this time and the online financial modeling courses she enrolled in during that time.

By highlighting the personal and professional development she was engaging in during this time, Laura was able to construct a positive and forward-looking narrative.


Get ready for Questions in the Interview

Being able to provide answers to questions relating to any gaps in your employment is very important.

Practice your responses to ensure they are concise, honest, and put a positive spin on the experience.

Example: Responding in an interview to being asked about the two-year hole in his resume, software engineer James spoke about how he had spent those two years indulging his love of travel, as well as freelancing on coding projects he was interested in.

He spoke of the varied range of projects that he was exposed to, the range of programming languages he had to learn, and how, as a result, he became a more rounded developer.

In plotting that information in a well-prepared response, he took what might have been a red flag and made it so that he was still keeping engaged as a professional.


Landing the Job

Gaps in employment need not dissuade you from your career.

On the other hand, you must derive the maximum benefit from the same

By recognizing the gap, concentrating on skill acquisition, using freelance to your advantage, carving out transferable skills, positioning the gap positively, building networks, demonstrating resilience, providing the context in the resume, recasting your story, and preparing for the interview questions, you will be in a position to make the employment gaps a very potent tool and be able to put a positive spin on your situation.

Not only do the strategies minimize the visibility of the gaps, they can also make the gap very attractive and beneficial to the overall professional development.

Once again, please remember that everybody has a unique career and the employment gaps are nothing but mere chapters in the professional story.

If properly handled, the gaps can be a good story to illustrate your adaptability, never-ending learning, and resilience in any situation, making you a very attractive option to the prospective employer.

Are you ready to elevate your career? Learn more about our professional resume packages here. 

How to target your resume for your specific role or industry

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Resumes are not one size fits all.

In other words, if you’re looking for an HR job, your resume should be targeted to that particular HR role.

When I was hiring, I was pretty specific in my position description for a part-time customer service person. I loaded it with job-specific customer service keywords.

I was shocked–and a little annoyed– by the applicants who applied: a CFO, a UX coder, an insurance claims specialist, an early childhood educator, an IT consultant, and more completely unrelated to my posting (with not a speck of customer service experience in their resume.

HR managers, hiring managers, and recruiters talk about this often–when applicants DON’T tailor their resumes to the position listed.

If you’re not sure what should be on your resume, always look to the job description. It’s full of keywords and it tells you exactly what they need.

For example, if you are a finance executive what things should you put on your resume?

Financial executive resumes are different from other executive resumes in several ways. Here are a few key differences:

  1. Emphasis on financial expertise: Financial executive resumes should highlight the candidate’s financial skills and experience, including their ability to analyze financial data, make strategic financial decisions, and manage budgets and financial forecasting.
  2. Technical skills: They may want to include a section highlighting technical skills such as financial modeling, risk management, and experience with accounting software.
  3. Education and certifications: Education and certifications are important for financial exec positions. Candidates should include information about their degrees, professional certifications, and any relevant coursework. Additional professional experience is important as well.
  4. Results-oriented: Financial executive resumes should highlight specific achievements and results, such as improving profitability, increasing revenue, reducing costs, or leading successful mergers and acquisitions.
  5. Industry knowledge: A career in finance should demonstrate a deep understanding of the financial industry, including regulatory compliance, financial reporting requirements, and industry trends.
  6. Leadership and team management: They are often responsible for managing teams, so the resume should highlight leadership skills, team-building experience, and a track record of successful management.

So, what are some keywords a finance exec might use? Again, look to the job description. Depending on the job you may see any of these:

  • Financial analysis
  • Strategic planning
  • Budget management
  • Forecasting
  • Risk management
  • Investment analysis
  • Financial modeling
  • P&L management
  • Cash flow management
  • Accounting principles
  • Taxation laws
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Auditing
  • Corporate finance
  • Treasury management
  • M&A
  • Capital markets
  • Leadership
  • Team management
  • Communication skills

Make sure to incorporate these keywords appropriately in your resume, highlighting your relevant skills and accomplishments. However, avoid stuffing your resume with too many keywords as it may come across as inauthentic or spammy. Instead, focus on using relevant keywords that accurately describe your skills and experience.

I Was The Perfect Fit! Why Wasn’t I Hired?

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How many times have you felt you were PERFECT for that role, but still didn’t get it? You went over the interview in your mind a hundred times, noted how easily the conversation flowed, how they interviewer would nod enthusiastically when you described a certain experience or skill. They seemed excited when they said they would get back to you soon.

Then you got the email that you weren’t chosen.

Safe to say, I think we’ve all been there.

I’m a firm believer in if you didn’t get the job, something better will come along. Through the years, some of our clients have come back to us to tell us about interviews they nailed and were sure they got the job. But didn’t.

However, there are various reasons companies may choose a different route:

They decided to hire internally. As unfair as it sounds, they may have already had a front runner in mind but posted it anyway to see if there is someone better.  Some companies HAVE to post externally due to contract constraints or affirmative action plans. Federal contractors or government agencies may have to post externally as well.

You were overqualified.  Perhaps they think you won’t do tasks you deem “beneath you”. While it’s unfair for them to assume what you will or won’t do, it is a common concern. They may also fear that you will be bored at the job—especially if you’ve been on an impressive career track. Or, that after a while, you will leave and they’ll be back to square one.

You were underqualified. Thinking you’d be great in a role and actually having the experience to master the role are two different things. Read the job description thoroughly and make sure you have the experience to apply for the role.

They already had another candidate in mind. It’s possible they already found their choice but they had to have a certain amount of candidates to interview to fill their candidate roster. It might be company policy that X number of people need to be interviewed before a choice can be made.

Your online presence wasn’t professional or up-to-date. Hiring managers check your social media profiles to learn more about you. Turn on your privacy settings if you have personal pictures or information on there. Also, if you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile in a while (or years!), now is the time to do it. Lack of LI presence can hurt you as well. Get it up to date.

You shared too much. I’ve talked with recruiters who said the candidate told them their life story—the good, bad, and ugly—and in the process turned off the recruiter. Keep the conversation on the company, their pain points, how you can help them, and that’s it. Don’t talk about your jerk boss, your sick parent, or a personal health problem. They really don’t want to or need to hear it. Keep it professional.

You didn’t know enough about the company. Be very prepared when you go to the interview. Research the company, its mission, what they do, what they sell, or what they are about. Research the role, figure out their pain points. Have questions ready to interview the interviewer, questions like, “What should I know about the role I am seeking? Do you have any other insight?” Be both knowledgeable and inquisitive.

Whatever the answer, you may never know. You might have done everything right and still did not get the job. It might have been narrowed down to you and someone else, but they went with the other person because they had more strategy experience.

Either way, you gave it your all.

About two months ago, an operations exec said to me, “You know, after three rounds of interviews, they finally told me I wasn’t chosen. So, I reached out to a few old colleagues that resulted in a round of interviews with a company I was never interested in and an industry I wasn’t very familiar with. But they liked me and saw what my vision was for their company–and hired me. It has been the best job I’ve ever had.”

If you are struggling with job search, hang tight. The right job will come along.

What is the Best Executive Resume Format?

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Professional Resume Services best executive resume format

Your resume is usually the first thing a potential employer will see when you’re searching for a job. Having the proper format may seem like a little detail, but it’s actually pretty important. You want to make sure you have it in a format that will stand out, but you don’t want it to be too over the top and risk looking unprofessional. The best executive resume format clearly highlights your accomplishments in a clean manner. Here are some important things to consider when deciding on a format for your executive resume.

Chronological Format is Key for Executives

The best executive resume writers will recommend a chronological format for executives. Recruiters like to follow along the timeline of your career. It’s effective for people who have specialized expertise in a certain field because it highlights their attributes and ties them into the job they’re applying for.

Be Clear With Your Points

You may be thinking it’s risky to not include dates of employment or educational experience on your resume. While some employers do pay attention to dates, the best executive resume writing service will tell you it won’t cost you a chance to interview. Again, as long as you are clear with the expertise and experience you have, recruiters generally won’t raise a red flag for missing dates.

Combining Chronological and Functional Formats Can Be Effective

The best executive resume writers may even combine the functional executive resume format with the chronological format. This requires a little more attention to detail and creativity, because you want to highlight your most recent and relevant experience.
Executives with extensive experience will have more success with this combined approach than new executives with little experience would. If you don’t have experience and still believe a combined format would help your chances, the best executive resume writing service can help you pull it off.
Finding the proper executive resume format is a touchy topic. The goal of your executive resume is to make it pop without going overboard. If you would like to discuss the format of your executive resume and what options you have, feel free to contact us at any time.

The Evolution of the Executive Resume

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Experienced executives may be surprised at how resumes have evolved within the last few years since they updated theirs. In general, the information included in today’s resumes is very similar to what it was dozens of years ago, but the presentation has definitely changed. This is why many executives tend to use professional resume writing services to ensure their resume is up with the times. Let’s take a look back at how executive resumes have evolved over time and where they are currently.

Printed or Electronic?

Most professional resume writing services will suggest utilizing both printed and electronic versions of your executive resume. Printing out your resume and physically handing it to someone may seem old school, but it’s really the only guaranteed way you know they will look at it. With so many jobs posted online today, it can be easy for electronic copies to get lost in the shuffle. However, many companies rely on electronic resumes for keyword searching, so it’s still important to send it electronically as well.

Visual and Digital Resumes

Visual and digital resumes have become more popular over the last few years. They give you the ability to show off your creativity by demonstrating a skill or providing a work product you created electronically. However, the top rated resume writing services caution you about using this method in certain industries. These types of resumes are generally frowned upon when searching for an executive job, but a marketing or creative design hiring manager would likely appreciate it.

What is Best for Executives?

When executives craft their resume, it’s best to keep it simple and professional and make the important points stand out. The best executive resume writers can highlight relevant attributes within a standard resume format to make it pop out at the reader.
Hiring managers for executive positions tend to be traditional when it comes to the type of resume format they want to see. However, making your resume look exactly like everyone else’s is a good way to get yours passed over.
If you need to use professional resume writing services to get tips and tricks on your executive resume format or for any other help, feel free to contact us at any time. Crafting your executive resume is an art, so it’s important to find a good balance between what hiring managers want to see and what is going to get yours noticed over all the other applicants.

Executives: Don’t Put These 5 Things in Your Resume!

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Using the best executive resume writers will prevent these mistakes.

Executive resumes deserve just as much attention as a resume for any other job. You may be surprised to know most resumes for executive positions are generally poorly done. However, that just gives you the opportunity to shine brightly when it comes to your resume! Your executive bio needs to stand out from the rest. Most importantly, it needs to be error-free and you need to avoid putting some things in it altogether. We’ve compiled a list of five common, but unnecessary, things people put in their executive resumes.

Too Wordy

As an executive, you likely have many accomplishments and all of them are important to you. However, if you put too much on your resume, recruiters may stop reading it and move on to the next one. The best executive resume writers will include two or three key points to highlight skills and then move on. Think concise. Ask yourself, “Does this need to be on here?” You don’t want to overwhelm recruiters on paper.

Omitting Keywords

In today’s digital world, most resumes are scanned online for specific keywords pertaining to the job. Sometimes the keywords are more important than the substance in the resume. Look at the job description and use a lot of the words they use to describe the job. If you need help identifying specific keywords, you can always reach out to an executive resume service for assistance.

Focusing Too Much on Job Descriptions

Talk briefly about your job duties at your past jobs, but focus more on what you accomplished in those roles. Everyone can describe what they did at a particular job, but highlighting how well you did your job looks much better on paper.

Not Highlighting Achievements

This is where you need to use numbers and percentages to show how you made an impact in your previous jobs. Your executive bio will be much stronger if you say you “increased sales by 40 percent over 12 months” rather than just saying you “helped boost sales.” Be specific about your achievements so your next employer knows what you have to offer before you even step foot in their office.

Not Targeting Your Prospective Employer

Having a generic resume may be fine if you’re applying for a lower level position, but you need to do a little more work upfront for an executive level position. Do some research about the job and company you’re applying to. Identify how you can help them and include those points in your resume. The best executive resume writers will focus more on how they can help potential hirers, rather than what they’ve done in the past.

Professional Resume Services is the best resource for writing an effective resume!

If you’ve followed us for a while, or just have ample knowledge of how job searching and the professional world work, then you know the importance of crafting a personal brand. This is how you appeal to other professionals, especially those who may hire you to work for them later on. The main issue for anyone attempting c-level personal branding, however, is figuring out how to go about it efficiently. In this blog, we’ll give you a few tips on how to brand yourself efficiently and catch the eye of recruiters in an instant!

Include Your Accomplishments

While this goes without saying, your accomplishments within your industry will be some of the most important elements of your personal brand and should not be ignored. The key aspect here is how you incorporate them. You don’t want to splay them all out like playing cards strewn on a table. Rather, you can frame them in a way that appeals more readily to employers.
For a few ideas on how to do this, you can always rely on a team of the best executive resume writers in your area or do a bit of independent research. While you should strive to keep your entire resume brief, you can add a bit of color to your stories by describing them in the form of a (very) brief story—three lines maximum, to be precise.

Think About How You’ve Contributed to Your Industry

This part of brand construction may prove a bit challenging, but it is the perfect method of showing any recruiter or hiring agent how you are a valuable employee. By creating your personal brand, you are effectively telling other professionals a story. Make it appealing by getting to the meat of the action! This means displaying your contributions to the past companies you’ve worked for. It may help to follow the C-A-R formula for these contribution stories, ‘C-A-R’ meaning Challenge, Action and Result. Think about what was being asked of you at the time, how you completed the task at hand and what happened afterward.

Research as Much as Possible

Oftentimes catching a glimpse of others’ work and ideas can help inspire you. If you’re stumped as to how to start or flesh out your personal brand, looking at how others have constructed theirs can give you a boost. We don’t mean lifting someone else’s work entirely, however! Writing an effective resume means showcasing your own strengths and individualizing yourself. Copying someone else entirely defeats the purpose.
As you surf through your Google results and check out what other people are doing, be sure to evaluate your own methods and ideas. How can you apply what they’re doing to your own strengths and accomplishments? Think about how you have influenced your previous employers in ways no one else did. This will help you figure out how to brand yourself well.
Additionally, it may help to get in touch with a professional resume writer to learn what you can do to better market yourself. You may come away with a new perspective toward your career and professional potential that you’ve never considered before, one that will wow employers on the spot!

Beware of These Myths About the Job Hunting Process!

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Avoid these myths with the help of the best executive resume writers.

The best executive resume writers help you avoid these myths.

As everyone knows, job hunting is a strenuous and arduous process. Everyone has their stories, and most people are good-natured enough to try to help other people in their position by spreading the word on what and what not to do. This has led to a tangled mass of information that continues to spread beyond control. Don’t believe the hype! Let us highlight what information you should disregard.

Be as Distinct as Possible

While you want to distinguish yourself from the competition, there’s a certain way to go about it. Being flashy is not the way to leave a great impression on your potential employers. If you’re considering doing something quirky to capture attention, such as making bold, sweeping statements about yourself and your abilities or changing your resume’s background from the standard white to hot pink, don’t do it! There’s a much better approach. Coach yourself on how to best prepare for meeting people you hope will employ you. Project an optimistic, collected demeanor and learn how to create the best executive resume biographies and you’ll go much farther!

Skills Are the Most Important Element to Getting Hired

This isn’t necessarily true! While employers want people with plenty of experience who know what they’re doing, there are some other traits employers seek out. They want to be sure you match up with the rest of the company in terms of personality, for one thing. You’ll have to fit in well with the company’s pre-existing culture. Skills can always be fleshed out later on during your career, but a highly skilled professional who disrupts the office environment cannot be helped much. You can always learn how to build up the way you market your skills by brushing up on your executive resume writing abilities.

The Salary Discussion Must Unfold In Person and Immediately

In this day and age, no. You have the option of describing how much you would like to earn on your application. However, you don’t want to do this right away. Say your salary is “negotiable” or something similar. This will give you some time to do your research and also shows you’re considerate of the company’s needs by putting them before your desire to get paid for your work. This will leave a favorable impression on hiring agents.

Send Out Applications to Multiple Locations at Once

If you simply apply to every job that’s hiring, you could easily be stuck with a position that doesn’t fit your skill level and/or industry. Instead, you want to look for jobs that cater to your experiences and skills. Once you’ve found jobs that do this, you can then rely on the best executive resume writers to help you create an appealing resume!