4 Ways to Deal With an Employment Gap on Your Resume

Being unemployed is difficult. And makes it more difficult is that the longer you are out of work, the harder it can be to get a new job. As Thomas Friedman recently noted in the New York Times: “No employer will say this out loud for legal reasons, but if you’ve been out of work for six months or more, they won’t even look at you because they assume nobody else wanted to hire you.”  

And Ezra Klein wrote in the Washington Post about a study in which it was discovered that employers do indeed look negatively against those with more than six months unemployment. This meant that employers would rather chose candidates with no relevant experience, but who were not unemployed for a long time, over the long-term unemployed who had the experience needed for the job.

Those are frightening things to think about. So what can you do about it if this is your situation? How can you fill that employment gap while you search for a permanent job? Here are some tips:

Work as a freelancer

Obviously, you want to have the ability to show that you have been doing something on your resume. It’s a plus if you can put down work as a freelancer. While the money you may be able to earn is important, what is even more valuable is the ability to put something on your resume to help eliminate that unemployment gap. And when the job is done, don’t be afraid to ask the person hiring you to give you a recommendation on LinkedIn. This can further help your marketability.

Sign up at a temporary agency

This could potentially solve multiple issues, with both getting you some much-needed cash, and showing work on your resume. Here are some things to keep in mind when working on assignments for such an agency – be flexible, have a good attitude, and be sure you make a great impression every single day. We cannot stress the “be flexible” issue enough – the recruiter at the temp agency may offer you a job that you do not think is a good fit for you, but it could actually be perfect for you. Many people find permanent jobs after working for a company as a temp. In fact, some companies only hire workers who they have tried out as temps.

Reframe your unemployment

Career coach Seth Kaufman, Psy.D. of Creative Vision Coaching suggests that you think outside the box if you are unemployed, and reframe the time as a positive. For example, “a gap in your career might be reframed as affording you the time and space to develop a fresh perspective on your industry or business,” he says. He also suggests that you can “cast yourself as an agent of change in contrast to long term industry insiders married to outmoded methods.”

Reinvent yourself

Another thing that being unemployed can cause you to do is to think of new careers. If you have a passion or an interest that you have always wanted pursue, now is a great time for career change. Kaufman says that if you are planning to reinvent yourself, “seek out opportunities where the key players do not cling to rigid views regarding your achievement potential.” Come to think of it, that advice goes for most people who are looking for new work.

Lisa Swan writes on a variety of career topics. Creative Vision Coaching is a Philadelphia-based career coaching company.