Closing Those Resume Gaps

Closing Those Resume Gaps

Recently, I had the opportunity to ask several of my fellow Chicago Now bloggers for ideas about what to write about. Granted, being a job seeker/freelance-between-gigs kind of person who only posts here once a week, you would think that thinking up a topic would come easy....but alas, it hasn't. (It also would have been helpful for a presentation I did last night on SEO and job seeking - it's a revamp of a talk I gave back in August, and went surprisingly well).

However, thanks to one of my intrepid peers, today's  post will be an answer to the following question:

If I am long-term unemployed, how do I fill in or account for those gaps on my resume?

(In all honesty, I am paraphrasing the question).

One way that I have heard suggested is for people to use a functional resume (which focuses on job tasks) over a chronological resume (which focuses on time line).  Although I could list the reasons why you should not, my recommendation is to read this entry from Recareered by Phil Rosenberg. He does a much better job at describing the pitfalls than I could. But what about those should job seekers handle them.

I actually learned the hard way when I first moved back to Chicago - granted, it was to take care of an ill parent, but since I was a new guy in a new town...oh, that gap grew. Although I finally found a position through networking, I had to learn how to be strategic in handling my gaps.

For example, freelance and temp work count - there's a line on my resume that says Freelance: Contract, with appropriate dates, and each bullet point talks about work for a particular client/agency. If it's a "name" employer where I have done multiple tasks, that gets teased out separately. For example, it may go something like:

FREELANCE/CONTRACT                           2010 - Present

  • Did something impressive
  • Did something else that's impressive

BIG SHOT COMPANY                                   2011

  • More impressive stuff
  • Impressive action

(Also, if I have a really short term contract, or I'm let go - just count the year and not the months. Makes it easier).

Part of my job gap strategy is, quite honestly, to be able to explain the gaps thoughtfully and carefully. It would be nice if many potential employers gave up on resumes and focused on web presence (as evidenced in this recent Wall Street Journal article), but if I am able to explain critical gaps (e.g., "I found myself doing much more freelance work, which stretched my abilities to adapt in a variety of situations" to "I was moving back to Chicago to care for a sick parent"), it helps give me an edge in finding employment. Given that I spent my first year in Chicago seeking work, I am finding that my current job search is much, much easier - still a challenge, but nothing that can be insurmountable.

But what do you think? What questions do you have? Please leave them in the comments below. In addition, you can check out my other work at, or you're more than welcome (provided to drop me a note letting me know you're connecting through Chicago Now) to add me to your Linked In contacts.

As always, thanks for reading!

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