Sometimes you just can’t avoid a resume gap.
Maybe you recently transitioned out of the military and found it’s taken some time to land your first civilian job. Maybe you’re a military spouse who’s had your career interrupted by several moves. Or maybe life just took an unexpected turn.
No matter the reason, you’re probably asking yourself how you address those resume gaps when applying and interviewing for a new position.
The good news is that, here at VA, we understand that life happens. Not only do we care for Veterans, many of us are Veterans — so we know your work experience is going to look a little different.
Addressing the gaps
Even so, you want to make sure your resume showcases your work and life experience in the best possible way. Here are some tactics to make sure your resume shines.
Reframe the gaps. A short gap on a resume usually isn’t a problem, but if they are long or frequent, you may want to redefine those gaps to highlight unpaid activities and accomplishments during that time. Consider including volunteer activities, mentoring, coaching, and attending classes or seminars. Even experiences in your personal life can develop work-related skills. If you’re a military spouse, planning a move can make it on your resume. “If you planned a move, located living quarters, settled your family, found doctors, restaurants and schools and built interpersonal relationships, you could highlight your organizational, interpersonal and planning skills,” recommended Military One Source Spouse Education & Career Opportunities (MySECO).
Consider a new format. It might be as easy as making a few tweaks to your resume. Use years instead of months on your work history or summarize your goals and qualifications at the top of your resume to highlight them. “Lead with a Qualifications Summary, a narrative profile summing up your key qualifications for the position. This will draw attention to your strengths,” notes Military.com. You can also add written references to your resume to balance out gaps.
Use your cover letter. A cover letter can be a powerful tool in a job application. They give potential employers a glimpse into who you are and why you want the job, beyond a cut-and-dry work history. It’s also a great place to expand on your resume and show how you used any gaps to develop skills that will be relevant to your work.
Keep current. If you’re in between jobs, don’t let the resume gap become a problem by continuing to stay professionally active. Volunteer, freelance, go back to school, and work to improve your skills.
Ask a professional. If you aren’t sure the best way to address your resume gaps, consult a career coach. Veterans are eligible for resume help through VA, and military spouses can get free resume reviews through MySECO.
Work at VA
If you’re interested in a career at VA, don’t let a few resume gaps stop you. Get your resume and cover letter ready and apply today!