Resume gaps can exist for a variety of reasons – travel, caring for an elderly parent or raising children. Certainly, the economic downturn of 2008-2009 meant that it was not unusual to see employment gaps on a candidate’s resume. But are resume gaps the death knell for a candidate’s job search? Not necessarily. What matters to prospective employers is that your skill set remains sharp, or that your time away actually increased your marketability through personal growth. Here’s how to explain the gap in your finance or accounting resume and still get the job you want.
Be honest about why the gap exists. Whether you traveled, were downsized, or took time off to raise your children, being forthright about why there is a gap in your resume is imperative.
Understand that time away can actually make you more marketable, or at the very least, not dramatically impact your marketability. Take note of the following:
- If you stayed abreast of industry changes
- If you stayed active in the accounting and finance industry by participating actively on social media – e,g. LinkedIn groups, or even blog writing
- Did you volunteer? Participate in your community?
- If you traveled, did you demonstrate adaptability, learn about other cultures, or accomplish a goal? In other words, what personal growth resulted?
- What did you learn about yourself during your time away? How could that knowledge benefit a prospective employer?
- How did your work gap make you stronger?
- Address why you left IF it’s because you were on mat leave, personal leave or were travelling. One sentence will suffice. If you were downsized leave the topic for a face-to-face conversation.
- Consider creating a community service or volunteering section on your resume. Whether it’s volunteering at your child’s soccer games, or giving back to your community in some other way, employers value socially-minded accounting and finance candidates.
- Highlight the personal growth that resulted from your time down. If you took courses, or seminars, it’s worth mentioning on your resume.
- Make sure all of the roles that you’ve held include an accomplishments section to demonstrate that you’re a potential employee who has a track record of success – use the S.A.M. method for full effect – saved, achieved, made
- If you do include a cover letter, you can use this opportunity to briefly address the gap in your resume
Pro Tip – Remember to add a (C) beside roles that were contract positions so that prospective employers don’t think that you’ve been transitioning every six months.
Read “The Best Finance Resume We Ever Received” for tips on creating an award-winning resume.
Just as you prepare to discuss your previous roles and accomplishments, so too should you ready yourself to explain the gap in your finance or accounting resume. Before the interview identify the key skills you developed during your time away. How do they apply to the job at hand? Craft a short, compelling statement that explains this. Be brief, clear and open to explaining further.
Pro Tip: If you were downsized, it’s important to explain the circumstances around the downsizing. Have success stories ready that are backed up by specific numbers. One approach to telling success stories is to outline the situation that you were dealing with, what actions you took and what the results were.
Bonus points if you take the time to secure recommendations for your LinkedIn profile from past managers and co-workers that confirm your competence. Remember, employers use LinkedIn to identify great candidates.
Companies understand that work gaps exist. Be confident in explaining your value. Understand that you’re still marketable. While answering questions about a period of unemployment can be uncomfortable, project strength and self-awareness.
Having a gap in your finance or accounting resume is not as big a deal as you might think. At the end of the day, what matters is how you explain your period of unemployment and the skills or growth that you experienced as a result of it.
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