After being planted for a few months, my husband and I are already getting that itch to move on. Jim spent many years working seasonally as an archaeologist for the National Park Service in different parts of the country, so it was easy for him to not get stuck somewhere for a while. After four years of being settled in Alaska for my career, we decided the seasonal archaeology life is a good idea. We would only realistically be in the same place for about six months at a time, and I wouldn’t be able to get work as a full-time reporter. But I don’t intend to give up that profession for good, and that’s the reason I’m telling this story.
If we spend a few years on the road allowing Jim to further his career, I will have a gap in my relevant employment experience that I will have to explain to future employers. I know this is a common issue with a lot of people in the work force today. Sometimes the gaps reflect a wanted change: taking a few years to raise a child or taking a year to further your education or taking six months to travel. But sometimes the gaps reflect an unwanted change: getting laid off and not being able to find a job, or having a medical issue that prevents you from working. Whatever the case is, we all have to answer for the gaps.
In doing research for this particular resume question, I’ve found that it’s better to be upfront and honest about the gaps if they are large periods of time. If your resume shows you were out of work for six month or longer, this might be a concern to potential employer. But, luckily, there are ways you can put a positive spin on a larger-than-normal period of time out of work. If you took time off to further your education, say that. Name the courses you took and what you learned that you hadn’t known before. If you were traveling, share your travels. Tell potential employers what you learned about people or dentistry on your extended journey. If you were out of work because you couldn’t find a job, show potential employees how you kept up with changing trends and practices in the dentistry field.
According to a Monster.com career advice article, short gaps might not be too noticeable if you eliminate months from your traditional resume. Monster.com writer Kim Issacs also recommends using the objective statement (or cover letter) to summarize your goal as well as your top qualification. “This will draw attention to your selling points and downplay your work chronology,” she wrote.
If you’ve taken an extended amount of time off to raise family, help a sick family member or further your education, Isaacs said you should never be apologetic. “There’s nothing wrong with being out of work for whatever reason, and a negative attitude might affect your resume’s quality,” she said.
If you’re currently out of work and have been for longer than six months, there are things you could be doing to ensure positivity is linked to this gap. Further your education. Take courses and attend conferences if you can. You can also try to volunteer within your profession — perhaps at an office or at a dental school. You never know what might turn into a job in the future if you get your foot in the door.