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How to Handle a Spotty Work History

How to Handle a Spotty Work History

Kim Isaacs | Monster Resume Expert

In today’s economy, you need to carefully present your experience to avoid being seen as unstable. Start by evaluating your situation and determining how bad it really is. If you are panicking about two months of unemployment back in 1984, your job search will probably not be affected. However, if you are dealing with recent periods of unemployment extending for months or even years, you will need to start strategizing.

If You’re Concerned About Employment Gaps

• Think about other activities you can use to fill that time period. You might have experience relevant to your job target, regardless of whether you were paid. Volunteer activities, community involvement, special projects, consulting engagements and continuing education can be used in the Experience section.

• Short gaps might not be apparent if you eliminate months from your traditional resume. Use the Objective statement to summarize your goal as well as your top qualifications. This will draw attention to your selling points and downplay your work chronology.

• If you’re returning to the workforce after an extended absence, show how you’ve kept up-to-date with changes in your industry.

• If you’ve been out of work because you raised a family, continued your education, cared for a sick family member or recovered from an injury, be sure your tone is not apologetic. There’s nothing wrong with being out of work for whatever reason, and a negative attitude might affect your resume’s quality.

If You’re Concerned About Job-Hopping

• Some fields are prone to short periods of employment, and job-hopping might not be a concern. For many other occupations, there is less of a stigma regarding job-hopping than in the past.

• The best way to handle job-hopping on your resume depends on your specific job titles and companies. You may be able to lump two or more similar positions under one heading (for example, Sales Representative, ABC Company and DEF Company, 2/94-4/96). You can list your combined work experience’s highlights. Independent contractors and temporary workers should consider grouping their experience under one time period (such as IT Consultant/Network Specialist, 4/95-present) with project highlights.

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