Covering Resume Gaps

A “resume gap” is a period of time during which you may have been unemployed or employed outside the NDT industry. In the past, such gaps tended to be short and easily explained. But the lingering recession has created extended gaps on resumes across the industry, some extending many months or even more than a year.

How do you address such prolonged resume gaps?

You should be prepared to explain the gap during an interview. In fact, you must bring it up if the interviewer does not. Otherwise he or she might automatically dismiss you as a candidate without even asking for an explanation.

Here are some tactics to consider to help explain any gaps in your resume:

If you were out of work due to being fired for cause…
Don’t go into too much detail. Explain (briefly) the reason for the parting of ways, state the good parts of the job and what you accomplished. Do not go into the disagreements you had with that “no-good” boss — you’ll only look foolish.

If you were out of work because you were laid off during a budget cutback…
This is more common now than in the past. Explain how you were able to retain the job as long as you did because of your skills, experience and success on the job; and that you did not want to jump into another position until you found one that was suited to your talents.

If you were out of work because your company went out of business…
Explain the important role you played in the company, and at what level of influence you operated. Unless you were the CEO who lost all the customers, you can’t be blamed for the failure. Demonstrate how you were able to remain busy and active right up until the end, and how, in looking for a new position, you (understandably) want to be sure the company is stable.

If you were out of work because you took some personal time off…
Tell the interviewer why you wanted the time off and what you did with it. If it was a maternity leave, leave to care for a sick relative, or a return to school, they should understand. If you simply wanted to go to Bonaroo or to surf the Big Island, that is harder to justify.

In every case tell the interviewer what you did during the gap to maintain or improve your NDT-related skills and certifications. If you paid attention and took positive steps during your “down time,” you can position yourself as a more valuable employee, changing your resume gap from a potential obstacle to a help.

A potential employer’s chief concern is that hiring you won’t turn out to be a colossal mistake. Help them by showing that you were productive during your downtime, learned new skills, and are now “good to go.”