The last thing any busy employer wants to do is sit through interviews with unprepared candidates. Consequently, a vast majority of job seekers spend days–if not weeks–perfecting their resumes, organizing questions for potential employers, and trying out elevator pitches. There’s an art to nailing an interview, and the competency needed to communicate work history gaps, career changes, and resume inconsistencies is no different. It takes considerable thought to explain resume inconsistencies; candidates are often so intimidated by these inconsistencies, they follow a “less is more” mentality in the interview room and leave the fate of their employment up to chance.
Don’t let your next interview fall victim to awkward pauses or unanswerable lines of questioning. Instead, earn trust and convey transparency by tackling resume pain points head-on. By acknowledging, explaining, and maintaining professionalism when presenting resume inconsistencies, you transform potential negativity into genuine, valuable bridges to success.
Inconsistencies on Your Resume: Communicating Gaps in Work History
Gaps in work history arrive in a multitude of ways. Perhaps you took time away from work to pursue a new project, travel, or raise children. Maybe you went back to school full-time or needed to care for a family member. Regardless of why you took time away from work, your gaps in work history aren’t necessarily a cause for concern. Approach these inconsistencies on your resume professionally, honestly, and with transparency at the heart of your efforts.
Communicating Gaps in Work History:
- Prepare to be asked about it. Employers and hiring managers specifically look for gaps in your work history – you will absolutely be asked during pre-interview phone calls and again during in-person interviews about any gaps they see. Practice your responses ahead of time, especially if your time away from work stirs any personal emotions; you want to be concise, transparent, and professional.
- Boost extracurricular achievements. Did you learn a new skill during your time away from work? Were you forced to lean on abilities that translate well to the workplace? Can you connect your time away to marketable achievements or job description specifics? Pull these things out when explaining gaps in your work history.
- Stay honest. You don’t need to divulge every intimate detail about your time away, but prepare a statement explaining the general reason(s) behind why you took time away from work and memorize it to perfect your delivery. Do not try to hide these gaps behind lies or inaccurate stories – employers can and will catch on.
Inconsistencies on Your Resume: Communicating Career Changes
Don’t let fears about communicating a career change derail the excitement and pride you’ve earned by moving to a job that better aligns with your needs. Career changes are exciting, thrilling moments in your employment history and they often tell a marketable story about achievement, growth, and overcoming hardships. Lean into these facts and related skills when communicating these types of inconsistencies on your resume.
Communicating Career Changes:
- Research your audience. Just as each employer has a set of priorities specific to their unique organization, every job industry does, too. Show you’ve done your homework by coming prepared with high-level points addressing applicable challenges in the industry you wish to join and how hiring you can solve these challenges.
- Boost transferable skills. Hiring managers value growth, development, and skill acquisition from a variety of sources. Capitalize on skills learned in previous roles and experiences by highlighting achievements that translate well to your new industry.
- Speak the right language. Don’t bring acronyms from prior career fields into your new career fields; the language often doesn’t translate and the last thing you want to do is alienate a hiring manager using industry-specific terminology. Always take the extra time to spell out your skills and achievements using universal terms and language.
Inconsistencies on Your Resume: Communicating Contract Work and Short-Term Positions
Some candidates think because previous work was temporary, contracted, or executed for only a short amount of time, it’s somehow perceived as less worthy or important. This could not be further from the truth. All experiences with related, transferable workplace skills and achievements are worth exalting – including and especially those skills most prioritized by potential employers. Take advantage of your achievements and showcase your best short-term work by proactively communicating these types of inconsistencies on your resume.
Communicating Short-Term Positions:
- Exhibit your value. Like standard job roles, short-term work offers candidates a chance to demonstrate quantifiable achievements. Find ways to convey the value you brought to short-term positions by pulling out metrics that align with your potential employer’s goals. There was a reason you were chosen for short-term work. Explain what the company needed to accomplish and why you were the best fit.
- Boost your speed skills. Short-term work often requires candidates to think on their feet and learn new tasks at a faster pace. Detail your short-term work and escalated timelines to prove flexibility, adaptability, and fast learning skills.
- Highlight long-term goals. Stave off any concerns about short-term dedication to a new organization by clearly communicating your long-term career goals. Make sure your potential employers know and understand the reasons why you’re seeking a permanent position. They likely want to hire someone who will be there for the long haul.
Inconsistencies on Your Resume: Communicating Incomplete Degrees and Education
Life often interrupts our plans and this holds especially true in the area of higher education. While most of us begin college studies with a clear path toward earning our degree, much can change between year one and year two, four, or eight. Instead of avoiding these inconsistencies on your resume, lean into the education you completed and your plans for the future.
Communicating Incomplete Education:
- Showcase future education goals. Don’t hide applicable education, especially if you plan to return to school. Employers enjoy hiring people with long-term growth plans and education goals that align with their specific job industry.
- Boost all lessons learned. Education comes in a variety of formats and from a variety of experiences. While your college transcript may not show off each of your marketable skills, the job you simultaneously held while attempting to complete your degree might. Don’t shy away from pulling out learning experiences that occurred alongside your college studies. They sometimes translate better to the workplace than college classes themselves.
- Make it count. Manufacturing employers don’t want to hear about human anatomy classes. The lab work or internship you conducted at a local manufacturing plant, however, is likely to gain their attention. Capitalize on and prioritize educational experiences that align with your employers’ goals.
Inconsistencies on Your Resume: Communicating Job Loss
There’s no greater anxiety than that which comes from being asked about a job termination or layoff. Firing and layoffs are universally seen by both candidates and employers as “bad,” but avoiding these tough topics during the job search process often backfires. Tackle job loss inconsistencies on your resume with confidence and professionalism by adhering to a few job-loss-specific techniques and strategies.
Communicating Job Loss:
- Determine applicability. Not every job deserves a spot on your resume. If you were fired or laid off from a short-term role or job that doesn’t align with the job you’re applying for, there’s likely no need to detail it on your resume. Six months is a good rule of thumb when determining what time periods to include or not. When leaving positions off your resume, prepare a simple, straightforward statement to use when asked about gaps in work history.
- Boost your accomplishments. Take the focus off your job loss and onto your transferable skills. Use strategic examples from past employment to showcase your value, like instances where you took on additional responsibilities or surpassed organizational metrics.
- Stay professional. Don’t let the emotions that often surround a termination or layoff cloud your ability to pull out tangible evidence of growth, achievement, and accomplishment from previously-held roles. Practice speaking about these roles from a factual, marketable perspective. Rehearsing the positive aspects of your previously-held position allows you to subconsciously reframe your tone, body language, and confidence.
Are you struggling to convey inconsistencies on your resume? Zoetic Resume and Writing Services specializes in professionally articulating your history, education, and experience regardless of employment pauses, layoffs, or changes in direction. I partner with my clients to learn about your unique career goals and customize my services to build a resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and job candidate package that fully conveys your potential and value. Take your career search campaign to the next level and improve your chances of landing your dream job by adding a professional resume writer to your job search toolbag. Connect with me here to learn more.