How can a job seeker, who is returning to the workforce, be honest when filling in the gaps on his or her resume?
A common warning when updating a resume is this: avoid listing gaps in your employment history. This is said because recruiters and employers can quickly flag time lapses between jobs. If inundated with applications or pressed for time, they may disregard qualified candidates after making split-second observations. But large numbers of exceptional job seekers want to re-enter their career fields after spending time away for good reasons.
As someone earnestly looking for work, how can you make the most of your brief resume introduction by giving a truthful representation of your experience?
Using a cover letter to explain a leave of absence can safeguard your resume from being overlooked because of a gap in employment. Whether you took time off to raise children at home, volunteer with a purposeful organization, travel, or avidly seek your dream job, you can use a cover letter to explain your time away.
Cover Letter Tips to Re-enter the Workforce
A cover letter is an ideal location to explain why personal experiences qualify you for a particular job. In some cases, non-work experiences may make you the top candidate for a position. Since cover letters are a means of opening lines of communication, don’t be afraid to include personal information that you think an employer ought to know, even if it strays away from “typical” cover letter content.
Smart, Unique Cover Letter Ideas
Here are some tips to consider as you prepare to update your cover letter:
- Be honest and up front about why you have not been working in your field. It is appropriate to say something like, “As a stay at home mom, I was afforded the chance to volunteer with an organization that advances…”. Or, “Being a full time student gave me the opportunity to travel abroad, where I learned how to communicate effectively with people from different cultures.”
- Remain positive about your experience out of the workforce. Without being unemployed, taking extended time off work is a dream for almost anyone. Even if you are itching to get back into a professional role, be sure to see the glass as half-full when reflecting on your time away.
- Avoid repeating information listed on your resume. A unique cover letter affords you the opportunity to provide information that cannot fit into the structured, brief account of your professional strengths, accomplishments, and work history that must be included on your resume.
Your cover letter should intrigue a recruiter or potential employer and help paint a picture of who you are and what you do. It should be clarifying, and not overwhelming with useless facts. By being honest, positive, and unique, your personal experiences can jump off the page of a cover letter and appeal to those looking to hire individuals with your qualities. A cover letter is your chance to be open and brief about what you know and the skills you have acquired in and out of a professional position.
Don’t fear recruiters and employers might overlook your resume because of time lapses in employment history. Instead, use an effective cover letter to fill in the gaps.
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