A common problem that many people come across, particularly for those recently graduated and entering the work force, is that their work history is not long enough for them to make a full, complete, and impressive resume. But it is nothing to stress over. You can still have an impressive resume without a long or extensive work history.
The biggest key to having an impressive resume without a long work history is to not create fake jobs or fake references. This is the biggest mistake anyone can make. It will only cause you problems in your search and may cost you multiple job opportunities.
You may want to take a functional resume route. In other words, focus on the skills that you have that will apply to the job you are applying for. You should still include the work history that you have, but the focus of your resume should be on your impressive skills and abilities. The skills would be formatted to look like this in your resume: Auto Mechanic:
Responsible for tune ups, tire changes, and other basic level mechanical work
Worked as an oil change technician for 5 years
Shade tree mechanic for two years
Used Car Sales
Sold pre-owned vehicles on commission for 6 months
Examined vehicles for mechanical problems prior to purchase
Fixed major and minor issues on vehicles before resell
Not only is this a simple format, but it can fill up your resume, make it impressive and professional, and keep you out of future trouble with potential employers.
In today’s competitive job market, you want to make your resume as appealing as possible to prospective employers. Most employers are looking for competent workers to fill key positions quickly, with the expectation that new workers will stay around for many years and become valuable assets to the company. Therefore, a big gap in work history could be viewed by some employers as a sign that you are not looking for a long term commitment to a job. You need to be honest on your resume about any big gap inwork history, but you can be creative in your explanation to present your history in the best light possible. If you have a gap of more than a few months in your work history, you can’t just skip over it on your resume and hope no one will notice. Even though you were not working during that time, you might have been doing something that would look good to an employer.
Having a big gap in work history should not negatively impact your chances of finding a job if you can make the gap look like it was not time wasted. If you had to leave work in order to take care of your ailing parents, or if you took two years off after the birth of your child, you can highlight the valuable experiences you gained during your time off.
If you took a year or two off from a “real” job and spent the time wandering around Europe, describe this period as a personal sabbatical for enhancing your education and understanding of the world.
List the time interval as though it was a period of employment, except that you didn’t get paid for it. If the other job descriptions on your resume take up six lines each, devote the same space to describing your “duties” during your time off.
It is better to be up front and honest with potential employers when describing your background. If you have one or more big gaps in employment that were due to circumstances that an employer might see as negative, it is better to explain those circumstances fully in your cover letter when applying for a job. If you spent time in prison or drug rehab, it is better for you to explain what valuable lessons you learned from the experience in your job application process, than it is to hide the truth and hope your potential employer doesn’t discover it in a background check. Many employers will not view a gap in employment negatively. They recognize the value of continuing education, caring for others, and personal growth experiences. They will often seek out job candidates who have something unusual to offer. By explaining your big gap in work history in the proper light, you may show the boss that you are the exact type of creative and self-motivated individual the company needs for that job you have always dreamed of.
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