The twenty-first century resume doesn’t follow the format suggested by experts in the past. The CV of the ‘gig economy worker’ offers a mosaic of diverse experiences, but it also includes gaps – periods of time not working. A recent study shows the competitive advantage goes to the candidate who ‘minds the gap’ and candidly discloses these career ‘sabbaticals’.
The golden rule of job search is to present yourself as who you are: not your social media presence, not through the biased lens of family and friends, and definitely not ‘shape shifted’ to match a particular job description.
Finding a job is about finding a ‘fit’, discovering a close match between your talent, values and aspirations. If an employer is dismissive of your qualifications because of breaks, you have met ‘the canary in the coal mine’, so take the hint and move on to a place where the value of those gaps is understood.
Patricia Cohen examined the issue as it relates to family leave. Do you explain a child care gap in your resume?
“For women hoping to return to the workplace after caring for their children, the advice is often “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Many women who described themselves as stay-at-home mothers can attest to receiving denigrating nods and hasty rebuffs. Researchers have repeatedly found ample evidence of discrimination against mothers in the hiring process and the workplace.
But women may be better off explaining their decision to stay home to a potential employer upfront, said Joni Hersch, a professor of law and economics at Vanderbilt Law School, and co-author of a new study on the subject, “Something to Talk About: Information Exchange Under Employment Law.” Employers, afraid of running afoul of anti-discrimination laws, don’t bring up the subject, she said, and female applicants, picking up on those cues, often don’t offer information, leaving hirers to guess at the reasons behind a hiatus.
But, Professor Hersch said, “women who conceal personal information dramatically lower their hiring prospects.”
What’s the ‘take-away’ here?
Reliance on your resume as a single point of introduction to an employer is not your best job search strategy – it never has been.
The best job search strategy is a lifelong management of relationships. Maintaining professional connections, through career success and career breaks establishes your professional credibility. There is no substitute for a career advocate who ‘gets you’ and sees the complete picture of your career plan, warts and all. Someone who can advise you as you develop your script, tell your story and mind the gaps.