Regardless of how you spend your time away, the best way to deal with that gap on your resume is counter-intuitive: Don’t present it as a gap.Instead, figure out how your experience adds to your skill set, and how you can use that to market yourself.
“Whether you’re unemployed or employed, always be able to go back and deconstruct the elements of the work you’ve done,” says Ginny Clarke, author of Career Mapping: Charting Your Course in the New World of Work. “You’ve got to account for the time … Let people know that you weren’t just sitting at home getting stale.”
If you’ve already taken time away and are now looking to get back to work, think outside the box about what you learned during that time away from what you were doing.
Maybe you became a super multitasker while staying at home with the kids and managed a budget for a family or organization you were volunteering with.
Or maybe you worked as a freelancer while traveling around the country. How will what you learned make you a better employee?
And take this strategy beyond your resume. Be prepared to explain the benefits of your career break in person, because it’s a topic that could come up during an interview.
If you present it well, that experience could work in your favor, serving as an ice-breaker or making you a more interesting candidate. As I’ve mentioned many times previously, people hire people. They want to hiring individuals that are diverse and have interesting stories to tell.
If you approach an interview with a gap festering on your resume, hoping no one will notice, they probably will.
Whatever you do, don’t apologize for your decision to take a sabbatical, Clarke says. Too many job seekers make the mistake of pointing out their weaknesses, rather than their strengths.
Instead, be proud of your accomplishments and what you bring to the table. Because when it comes to an interview, Clarke says, “so much of being successful is attitude.”