When hiring managers review your resume, they want to see that you have a steady job history. A long employment gap, or a history of short gaps, is often a red flag that can indicate an increased risk for tardiness or absenteeism. If you had a long employment gap due to a health issue, you need to address it right away, or the interviewer might not consider you for the job.
One way to address a lengthy employment gap is to stop using a chronological resume and start using a functional resume. Chronological resumes typically list each position you have held in reverse chronological order, making it easy for employers to see that you were out of work for several months or more. The functional format emphasizes your skills, which takes the focus off your employment dates and puts it on your qualifications.
When you write your cover letter, don't refer to specific dates of employment. If you do, the interviewer is sure to notice your lengthy work gap. Instead, talk about your experience in terms of years and months. If you had to take time away from the workforce after serving as a marketing specialist from 2012 to 2015, tell potential employers you have three years of experience in the marketing industry. In many cases, it is more important for you to have the right experience level than it is for you to demonstrate long periods of continued employment.
If you did any freelance work or consulting while you dealt with your health issues, include each project in your resume or cover letter. This shows employers that you stayed on top of developments in your field and did some work to keep your skills fresh. If you consulted for a prestigious client, mentioning your consulting experience can even give you an edge over other candidates. Including this information is a good way to overcome an employment gap that lasted more than a few months.
Once you make it to the interview stage of the process, be prepared to address the elephant in the room: your work gap. If you reveal that you took time off due to health issues, it is important to let the interviewer know if the issue has been resolved. You can do this by explaining that you had a temporary health issue, addressed it quickly and are now well enough to return to work without any worries about your ability to do the job.
If you have a chronic condition, don't reveal too much personal information to the employer. Just explain that you took time off due to surgery or extended illness. Don't spend a lot of time addressing your employment gap. Use most of your time outlining your skills and explaining why you are a good fit for the job.
If you can't camouflage an employment gap with a functional resume or carefully worded cover letter, address the gap directly. Tell the employer you needed time off to resolve a health issue. If the issue is no longer a concern, assure the interviewer that you are ready to take on the demands of the job.
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