Information, helpful advice, and commentary about topics relevant to relaunchers.

Dealing with Resume Gaps

Tips for explaining your time out of the profesional workforce

Kristin Maschka is the past president and national spokesperson for Mothers & More. She has her own management consulting practice and is the author of THIS IS NOT HOW I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today. You can read more of Kristin's articles on her blog.

I noticed that a number of people find my blog because they are searching for information on dealing with a gap in their resume due to time out of the workforce to care for family. They land on this post, How to Explain Gap in Resume: Caring for Family or…Coma?, which tells the story of one mother who was advised that she’d be better off telling a prospective employer that she’d been “in a coma” than saying she’d been caring for family and “doing nothing.”

I knew THAT wasn’t good advice. While I give some tips in my original post, I decided it was time to go to the experts for more advice for my readers. So I reached out to my friend Carol Fishman Cohen at iRelaunchiRelaunch offers a range of resources and services for women re-entering the workforce. All of which are informed by Carol and her co-founder Vivian’s constant interaction with employers and recruiters, plus their own experience as hiring managers and recruiters.

Carol packed our conversation with advice worth its weight in gold, for mothers and for anyone with a gap in their resume.

Kristin: Carol, multiple studies show that mothers in particular face automatic bias that has a direct impact on pay and promotions. Being a woman and having a gap in your resume often triggers that bias. So what’s the most important resume advice for someone who has a gap in her resume?

Carol: First, don’t leave any time unaccounted for. Whether you did something during your career break that was relevant to your career or not, don’t leave any question in people’s minds about how you spent time. If you haven’t done anything relevant to the career you want to reenter, that might mean including in the Personal Section at the end of your resume, “2005-2011 Career break to care for children.”

If during your career break you DID have an educational experience, or volunteer experience, or consulting projects that are relevant to what you want to return to, you will want to include those.

Kristin: What if the person only did occasional consulting work?

Carol: Occasional consulting work is legitimate resume material. I might list “Carol Cohen Consulting” and bullet points of three projects I had during that time even if the work was only here and there. You can include this and other unpaid experiences under a category labeled “Experience” rather than “Work Experience” and combine all of those experiences under one category. We advise against using the term “volunteer,” and some people like the term “pro bono” especially in the legal field where it is common.  Read more.

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