So many people write to me: "I have no job right now. What should I put on my resume to explain my current unemployment?"
We hear that employers prefer to hire someone who is currently employed over someone who is unemployed, so how do you hide the fact that you don't have a job right now -- without lying on your resume? I have two formulas for handling this issue, based on when your unemployment started: before or after January 1st.
Formula #1: You Have Had No Job Since Before January 1st of Last YearIf you have a current employment gap on your resume that started prior to January 1 of last year, follow this advice:
1. Do not list months when stating your employment dates. List only years.
2. Fill your current employment gap with a paid or unpaid activity you were doing that’s relevant to your job objective.
For example: you might have had a few paid short-term projects (such as consulting assignments, temp work, freelancing, or per diem jobs). You might also have done some unpaid work (such as volunteering for a nonprofit, classes/training, personal projects that furthered your professional development, or times when you used your occupational skills to help your family and friends).
Group those relevant paid and unpaid activities under one “job title,” followed by a list of “Selected Clients,” which would include only the most relevant and substantial ones from your full list of activities.
Your employment gap might look something like this:
20xx-present, Technical Support
QRT for the Homeless
If you can’t come up with anything relevant to list, fill your current employment gap with a “job title” that indicates your good character, such as parent, family management, caregiver, travel or something “wholesome” you were doing.
Formula #2: Your Current Unemployment Started After January 1st of This YearIf you became unemployed on January 2 or later of this year, you don’t have to address your employment gap as long as you use years (no months) when detailing your work history. Without months listed, the ending date for your last job will be this year, which doesn’t say when during this year you became unemployed.
However, if you are still unemployed at the beginning of next year (Let's hope not!), you’ll need to follow the tips above for listing paid and unpaid “jobs” to fill the gap.