Put a Positive Twist on Resumes with Periods of Unemployment

By Amy Winter

November 25, 2008 5 min read

Employment gaps on resumes stand out as a disadvantage to job-seekers. Ninety-three percent of employers, according to a survey by OfficeTeam, a staffing service that questioned 150 senior executives, say unintentional periods of unemployment cause them some concern. These employment breaks could serve as a determining factor for a candidate that seems to otherwise fit the position.

"In the current economy, employers are aware that people could be out of work through no fault of their own, but resume gaps can still pose a significant obstacle for job candidates," says Dave Willmer, executive director.

Thirty-six percent of executives say they are very concerned when employment gaps appear on resumes. A larger number of managers (57 percent) feel somewhat concerned with periods of unemployment. Only 6 percent of employers aren't troubled by employment gaps.

"Applicants who have lengthy periods of unemployment should focus on quantifying their achievements and emphasizing specific skills and experience," says Willmer. "Given the concern by hiring managers, job-seekers may need to address employment gaps upfront in the cover letter or during interviews."

OfficeTeam provides recommendations to conquer employment breaks:

— Offer a clarification. Be sure to provide a brief explanation about job gaps either in the interview or cover letter. This will help ease manager's doubts about your work experience.

— Emphasize the positive. Format your resume so the other areas like achievements, strengths and skills grab the manager's attention.

— Write the correct dates. Avoid trying to extend employment dates. The hiring manager will most likely discover your dishonesty.

— Look for referrals. Use your network of friends, past co-workers or mentors that can suggest you for job positions.

— Fill up the spaces. Search for other assignments or projects if you are unemployed. Contact a staffing firm for temporary positions while you look for a new full-time job. Or do volunteer work; it can help you develop skills and shows you were proactive while unemployed.

For more information, visit www.officeteam.com.

REGISTER FOR BENEFITS

Workers, pay attention during your company's open enrollment period. Joining new benefit packages or programs may help reduce costs during the year.

Unfortunately, many employees fail to take advantage of new benefits during the sign-up period. Twenty-three percent of employees missed out when possible cost-saving benefits were available, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.com, which questioned more than 6,100 workers and 3,061 hiring mangers and HR professionals.

The rates can be high for not participating in new benefit changes. Fifty-two percent of employers say that failing to enroll can cost workers $250 or more in out-of-pocket expenses, while 20 percent of employers say it costs employees $1,000 or more.

"Open enrollment ensures that eligible employees are not missing out on significant amounts of helpful benefits and wallet friendly programs," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources.

"In a challenging economy, many people are being prudent about how they can save money by cutting back on exorbitant personal expenses, but also need to be aware of cost-saving benefits at work that are easily available to them."

Haefner provides suggestions to help gain these advantages from benefit plans:

— Keep your eyes open for e-mails or letters from HR. Make sure you aren't overlooking possibilities to save money during the enrollment period.

— Talk to the HR department. Ask questions to determine which benefits are needed for your circumstances. You may be able to cut costs by removing certain elements from your plan.

For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com.

To find out more about Amy Winter and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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