How To Handle Employment Gaps On Your Resume
As weve discussed, its possible that employers will make wrongful assumptions about you, based on the gaps in your resume. You can challenge these wrongful assumptions by writing a clear and informative resume.
If you dont know where to start, consider the following tips:
Use the Three-Month Rule
In most cases, the three-month rule will serve you well. If your employment gap was less than three months, theres no need to explain it on your resume. A gap of three months or less should not raise too many eyebrows because three months is an acceptable timeframe to be job-seeking or taking a vacation between contracts.
Similarly, if you were fired from a job that lasted less than three months, consider leaving this off your resume. If the job lasted longer than three months, its often better to include it rather than erase it, because a more significant gap could look suspicious. Alternatively, see if the following technique could help to cover this part of your work history.
Use Years Instead of Months
Most people tend to format their work history like this:
Administrator June 2014 September 2017
To allow yourself breathing space between jobs, try reporting it like this instead:
Administrator 2014 2017
Be Honest About Challenges Youve Faced
Add Voluntary Work and Internships
Frame Travel Positively
Put Referees Contact Details on Your Resume
Write a Cover Letter
Exceptions To The Resume
While I strongly encourage you to limit yourself to a two-page resume, there will be instances where this is near impossible. This often happens to professionals who have never-ending lists of technical skills and proficiencies, a large number of consulting gigs to explain, or a series of published works to include. If you fall into one of these categories, you may need to use the first part of a third page. However, try to avoid this if possible since there is still a limit to how many pages a resume should be.
There are three additional scenarios when your resume length is likely to exceed two standard 8.5″ x 11″ pages:
If you are looking for a job in academia or the sciences, your academic CV or resume should be more than two pages long. In fact, your resume could be up to 15 pages!
If you’re applying for a job with the U.S. federal government, your federal resume might be 37 pages long in order to fit all the required information.
While an international CV the type of document used to apply for positions in most countries outside of the U.S. should also be 12 pages long, the size of the paper is different. International CVs should be 12 pages of A4 paper, while resumes should be 12 pages of standard letter paper.
Does A Resume Have To Be One Page
It used to be expected and even required, but times have changed.
As we discussed above, it is considerably more important to balance relevant content with being concise. However, one page can be too short to strike that balance.
You are trying to be concise and enticing. Generally, that means that you should avoid going over 2 pages.
However, there is more to it than length. If you have tiny margins and size 9 font throughout, including headings, youll keep the page number down, but your resume will be overwhelming to the reader.
Although it doesnt need to be one page, keep your resume concise, informative, and attractive.
In most cases, the answer is yes. A hiring manager is not naturally inclined to sort a 3-page resume of every experience youve had into the yes pile.
However, there are instances in which 3 pages may be required.
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Whats The Ideal Resume Length For The Hiring Manager
CV length is the difference between an experienced candidate and an irrelevant candidate. If your resume is too long, its a complete waste of time to go through.
On the other hand, if a resume is too short they wont get an overview of your suitability for the position. Its good practice to scope out the hiring preferences of the company you are applying to. This will allow you to tailor your resume to the known preferences of your hiring manager to give you the best chance of getting noticed and called for an interview.
Lets take a look at this a bit further by breaking down an entry-level resume and an executive-level resume.
Fill Both Resume Pages
If you opt for a two-page resume, be sure to fill both pages. A 1.5 page resume isnt acceptable, because the empty space looks like you struggled to come up with any more relevant information about yourself.
If you truly cant fill that second page, you may need to cut your resume to one page instead .
Add Volunteer Work and Extracurricular Activities to Fill Page Two
You can also try filling the last little bit of space on your second page by adding volunteer work to your resume. Volunteer experience shows the hiring manager a personal side to your resume that your work experience doesnt touch on.
Also consider adding extracurricular activities and relevant coursework to your resume if they tie into the job you want. Such details illuminate your character, and gives an edge over someone who only lists work-related information.
For example, a hiring manager would see that you have leadership skills if you list your experience captaining your college lacrosse team on your resume.
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Can My Resume Be 2 Pages
Yes, your resume can be 2 pages or longer if you have a lot of relevant information to put on your resume like work experience, certifications, educational details, and skills.
Its not bad to have a 2 page resume if making it one page would hurt your chances of landing an interview. In that case, instead of struggling to fit everything on one page, add a second page to your resume.
Try Different Margins Ranging From 5
Appropriate margins for a resume are .5, .75 or 1 inch. The goal is to make sure your text is evenly distributed on the page and not packed in too closely. Try adjusting your margins to the different options to see which looks best for your resume. Usually, resumes with less text will have larger 1-inch margins and resumes with more text will have smaller .75 or .5 margins.
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Make Your Ideas More Concise
The first step you should take when editing your resume is to make your ideas brief. You can do this by focusing on the key idea of each sentence to shorten sentences in your summary or objective, professional experience or other sections. For example, on a data entry clerk resume, instead of saying:
Demonstrated proficiency reviewing and entering test requisition form data , identifying inadvertently omitted test codes and notifying appropriate department for resolution
you could simply say:
Accurately reviewed and entered data daily from 400+ test requisition forms while identifying and reporting inaccuracies.
When Is It Acceptable
Several instances were discussed above where a resume can be longer than 2 pages.
A federal resume is often 4-6 pages long.
If the role you are interested in requires a CV , it will likely be over 2 pages long because of the additional information you will need to include.
As a freelancer or executive, sometimes 2 pages is not quite enough space, and going to a third page is necessary. Just keep the information applicable to the role you are applying to.
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Social Proof In Good And Bad Resume Examples
For many job opportunities, social proof is an important element.
Social proof isn’t limited to recommendations from others. Holbrook-Hernandez says, “a well-written quote from yourself can add a great touch on a resume and help your personality and values shine through.”
Below is an example comparison between a bad resume vs a good resume that uses a personal quote as social proof:
This applicant mentioned their time in the army, and used it as a social proof of their ability to make quick decisions and think outside the boxa trait commonly expected from people with military background. Now that culture fit is a hot topic among recruiters, using social proof like this is becoming quite effective.
Here’s one of the many bad resume examples out there that uses a first-person quote. It’s not a good use of social proof because it doesn’t mention anything unique or impressive about the applicant, and it doesn’t reveal anything about their personality or values.
Here’s an example of social proof you’re probably more familiar with: a recommendation from a supervisor.
The Short Answer: It Depends
When it comes to creating an ideal resume, there are certain tips recruiters and hiring managers alike can agree on: Avoid errors, be consistent with your layout, and focus on action items as much as possible. But if there’s one point of advice those same folks often disagree on, it’s whether you can really get away with having a resume that’s more than one page long.
Of course, for some people, limiting a resume to a single page is no problem. But what if you’ve been in the workforce for 20 years or more, and want to highlight your experience in various positions? Furthermore, what if every job you’ve held played a key role in helping you get to where you are today? In that case, is a lengthier resume justifiable? The answer is: It depends.
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Choosing A Bad File Name
“People should name their resume by their first and last name. A lot of times, candidates will send in resumes named ‘espence_resume91.pdf,”Resume2013’ or even ‘revision5resume.’ I’m glad you have revised your resume five times, but it would be great if version six had just your first and last name.” Pete Juratovic, president of Old City Press & Co.
Layoffs And Downsizing: Quick Tips To Improve Your Resume
Update your resume right away and be sure to showcase your recent achievements no matter how you may feel about your employer.
Ask your former employer or colleagues to supply you with written reference letters. Consider including a positive quote from a reference letter in the Qualifications Summary or Experience section.
Read as many job openings as possible to evaluate the skills and experience employers find desirable. Incorporate your matching credentials into your resume.
Don’t misrepresent your employment status by indicating “to present” on your resume.
Don’t write the reason for leaving on your resume, but do use the cover letter to explain your circumstances.
If Youre Applying For A Mid
Once youve got more than three years experience under your belt, you probably have more to say, and more relevant jobs to write about. One page may not be enough to highlight your accolades, but you still dont want to get too verbose
Generally, mid-career professionals should aim for two pages, Pritchard says.
Choosing your words to describe your worthiness and selecting the appropriate examples becomes more important.
Again the accomplishments you include should be relevant to the job at hand, but you should also make extra clear the business or technical impact of those achievements.
The details help me determine whether your skills are relevant to our situation, says Pritchard. The impact helps me determine the amount of benefit my organization can expect from hiring you.
Carina Chivulescu, a senior associate of human resources at The Expert Institute, says that numbers can help you strengthen your case while still allowing you to being concise: Saying that I streamlined multiple processes in my department is nowhere near as impressive or useful as, I was able to reduce costs by 15% by streamlining multiple processes in my department, she says. That’s what I’m looking for.”
Too Much Information Burying Importantdetails
Its rare forrecruiters to read a resume cover to cover if they cant find at least oneglowing accomplishment related to the job vacancy, says Jason Carney, HR Director for WorkSmartSystems.
A good resume isnt padded with too manydetails that make it hard for recruiters to qualify you as a candidate. Removeirrelevant or outdated details about your career.
Think of a good resume as a short ad, not a biography, continuesCarney.
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Worried About Those Gaps In Your Employment History Here Are Some Strategies To Put A Better Spin On Your Resume
Resume Dilemma: Employment Gaps and Job-Hopping
In today’s economy, you need to carefully present your experience to avoid being seen as unreliable. Start by evaluating your situation and determining how bad it really is. The coronavirus pandemic has upended our economy, so employers will absolutely understand if you’ve been affected. Meanwhile, if you are panicking about two months of unemployment back in 2008, you’re probably fine.
In fact, attitudes are changing among U.S. employers. According to the Monster Future of Work: 2021 Outlook survey, 49% of respondents said that resume gaps are becoming less of a red flag as a result of current market conditions, and 47% said the same about job hopping. However, if you are dealing with recent periods of unemployment extending for several years, you will need to start strategizing.
Your Resume Is The Length Of A Short Novel
OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration. But if your resume is more than two pages long, it is a serious indicator that you’re out of touch with today’s resume best practices. The sheer number of applicants per position makes it unlikely that any recruiter will spend more than 10 seconds on any given resume. We get it your resume is your personal work history. It’s often hard to determine what to leave in and what to take out, particularly when you have a long work history. This is where a professional resume writer can help you fine-tune your application and cut down what isn’t relevant to the position you’re gunning for. They will also help to take the focus away from your age and focus it back to what you have to offer a company.
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How Long Should A Resume Be In 2020
A typical resume should be one or two pages long.
- One page resumes are ideal for recent grads, entry-level resumes, or in-person networking
- Two page resumes are great for most job seekers, particularly those with five-plus years experience in their current field
- Three page resumes might benefit accomplished senior-level workers or technical professionals with large bodies of work
Including An Objective Statement
Including an objective statement in your resume is considered to be an outdated practice. Objective statements tend to be generic and used a space-filler.
If you feel the need to include some type of statement, consider adding a professional summary or a branding statement. A branding statement could be described as an elevator speech. This statement is a quick summary of your experience, skills and features that describe your career and qualifications. Here is an example of a branding statement.
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How Long Should A Resume Be Its Up To You
Your resume should be exactly as long as it needs to be and no longer, while also being as brief as possible without selling yourself short.
Resume length is a tricky one. If youre having trouble figuring out how long your resume should be, try focusing more on highlighting your top traits in the most reader-friendly way possible regardless of page count. If youre frustrated trying to smoosh all your experience into a single page, try a two page resume.
Most importantly, dont keep doing the same thing if its not working. Seek out new advice, try different techniques, and use all the tools at your disposal.
How To Use Tables In An Ats
While not advisable, tables can still be useful on an ATS resume.
For example, using a table to organize a simple skills section is unlikely to cause major problems as long as you remember how ATS read your resume. Putting a different skill into each table field is probably safe because theyll still be searchable and it doesnt make a huge difference what order theyre parsed by the ATS. Adding an extra space before and after each skill in your table can also help avoid merging issues .
That said, youre better off avoiding tables or columns altogether if you can. It might make it more difficult to efficiently utilize your space, but an ATS compatible two-page resume is a whole lot better than a resume mangled by an ATS.
Check out Jobscans free ATS-friendly resume templates.
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Graduates Have More Opportunities
First, unlike the graduates of 10 or more years ago, today’s young professionals are entering the real working world with more experience to boost their resumes and impress employers. From internships to co-ops to freelance gigs and even contract work, students are encouraged to secure opportunities throughout their collegiate journey to help explore potential career paths, build their skills, and meet the one to three years’ experience requirements that many entry-level jobs now demand. They’re also more likely to have personal blogs or online portfolios, group projects, volunteer work, leadership programs, and relevant campus activities to boost their resumes without adding any unnecessary fluff.
From Bad To Outstanding
In addition to creating a customized resume each time you apply to a role, avoiding these five missteps will help take your resume from bad to outstanding. And an outstanding resume will help you stand out from the rest of the crowd!
If you want even more advice on how to make your resume outstanding, consider meeting with a FlexJobs career coach. Our in-house experts will give you some personalized tips on how to make your resume the best it can be.
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