By Jenny Holt

According to a study conducted by online job-matching service, The Ladders, recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume. During this short-time, eye-tracking software determined that 80 percent of these six seconds are spent looking at your name, education, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, and previous position start and end dates. This means that recruiters spend a lot of time on your recent employment history. But what if you’ve been out of the game for a while? A gap in unemployment to a recruiter may come off as a candidate that may have a problem keeping a job, or a candidate that is hiding something. Your resume should gain the recruiters trust in six seconds and therefore these gaps must be addressed.  Here’s how to explain away any recent unemployment history, and make your resume a six-second success.

  • Be Honest.Many people will tell you to mask unemployment periods by faking dates. However, it is important that you don’t lie on your resume. This information can easily be verified and will automatically disqualify you from a job. Instead, be straight-forward, confident, and positive through your resume. This will show the recruiter you have two characteristics every employer searches for: integrity and confidence.
  • Find Value in Your Unemployment History: You can always find value in any time off from work. If you have been out of the job force for a while prior to applying to a position, it is important that you write what you have been doing instead. Maybe you were doing relevant volunteer work or harnessing your skills through a certificate program or graduate courses. Either way, how does the time you spent unemployedcontribute to this job opportunity? Even if you took time off to take care of your kids, write “Full-time parent” as your role and write any skills you obtained that may be relevant to your job, like managing schedules or event planning. Since recruiters are looking at your most recent job almost immediately, it is important to explain away any period of unemployment and supplement it with any relevant activities. Make sure to write how this shaped the relevant skills you need for the current job. You can do any additional explaining during your interview.
  • Add a Cover Letter: When you have gaps in employment it might be useful to include a cover letter to explain your situation. However, make sure you keep it positive. Be honest in the letter, but don’t overshare unimportant details and refrain from making any apologies. Unemployment happens to all of us, and you simply just need to put a positive spin on it. Focus on your strengths and don’t let the gap distract the entire cover letter.
  • Include an Opening Statement:Your resume should be a story, and just like any book, it should start with a thrilling hook. An opening statement can be used in the beginning of the resume to help recruiters target skills you may have acquired in roles prior to your most recent role. Once they read this, they will be more likely to look through the rest of your resume to find these skills. It is used to direct the recruiter to other roles that may lie past the unemployment gap in your resume. This statement should be powerful and tailored specifically to the job you’re applying for. It should provide your objectives as well as communicate an overview of who you are, what you can do, and why they should hire you. This is your elevator pitch that makes the recruiter want to read for more than six seconds.

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