5 ideas for eliminating the employment gaps on your resume.

If there is a gap in your employment you are immediately at a disadvantage when applying for jobs. If you don't believe it, Google "employment gap" or "unemployment discrimination" and read the news. Some employers have said they're unwilling to hire unemployed workers because they believe that if a worker has once been let go, that's a sign that he or she is probably not a great hire. Others believe that if someone is out of work for an extended period of time, their basic work skills (taking orders, showing up to work on time, etc.) will erode and make them less valuable to the company.

What is important.
When considering how your resume or work history looks to a potential employer remember that a
gap in your employment looks like a black eye on an otherwise attractive face. Their first question may be why do you have the gap? In most cases though you are not around to explain in your own words what happened. In that case employers may tend to answer their own question with the biases listed above. It is important to legitimately eliminate the employment gap all together. You must have something productive listed on your resume for current activity. We'll see five examples below on how to do that.

What isn't important.
Hours are not important. When was the last time you saw any resume that noted how many hours were worked at the job? It doesn't matter how many hours you spend doing the current productive activity you will be involved in. If you are working 1 hour every day answering the phones at your friend's business, your resume would show that you currently hold an administrative assistant position. Your resume wouldn't say "I spend 5 hours a week helping out my best friend during lunch".

1. Temporary work agencies.
Temporary work agencies are staffed by professional job finders. They are literally calling employers all day long looking for work and are some of the most networked people in the business world. Their first priority is to know where the jobs are. Their next priority is to match you up with one of those jobs! The beauty of working with a temp agency is the flexibility. You can find work for one day or for many months.

2. Library
While the library most likely will not pay you they will probably have something you can do to help out. Larger libraries host a wide variety of programs for all ages and segments of the community. One idea in particular is to be a mentor or coach. Those are always in need. What can you teach others to do? Are you a teacher - teach someone to read. Are you a software developer - teach someone to use a computer, software, or the web. Are you a nurse - teach someone to eat right or exercise properly. The list can go on and on. Go to the library, ask for the library director, tell her what your skills are, and ask to be matched up with an appropriate program. Then update your resume to say "Community Coach", "Mentor", or "Consultant".

3. Chamber of commerce
Job fairs are great because it is a large room loaded with hiring managers all in one spot. It makes networking and job hunting very easy. The same is true with your local chamber of commerce. A chamber of commerce will generally host many business and community functions each month. Their priority is networking - providing forums for everyone to meet each other and potentially do business. Where do you fit in? Approach the chamber staff, tell them what your skills are, and ask to be matched up with businesses or events that need temporary help. Many of the chamber's business members would be eager to have you help them through short term projects they are working on. In fact the chamber itself may be able to use your skills. Make sure your resume reflects your current work with the chamber.

4. A part-time job
Taking part-time work while searching for full-time work may benefit you with additional income (you can earn x amount of money while unemployed without losing your unemployment benefits) and having a current job to list on your resume. Remember you don't list how many hours you work on your resume; you list the jobs you are holding or have held. An employer reviewing your application may not know you are only working 15 hours a week, but will see that you are a working, that someone else believes you are employable.

Holding a part-time job while you search for full time work could also provide you with new skills, new contacts, and new ideas in addition to building your resume and your household income.

5. College or vocational studies
Upgrading your education or professional skills is a perfectly legitimate and productive use of your time. If you chose this route be sure to list it on your resume as your current activity. Also write what an employer will gain from hiring you once you graduate with your new or upgraded skill set. Employers love new graduates. It means they don't have to invest as much in your training and you've just been educated in the most current practices within the industry.

What doesn't make good employment gap filler?
"I just needed time off from work."
"I needed to care for my (fill in the blank)."
"I've been fixing up my house."
"I saw every game during March Madness."
"I took my kids to Disneyworld."

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