Resumes look different than when my parents were job hunting – – or for that matter, when I was first in the game. For most of the 20th century, a person took a job expecting to die in that job.
But sometime in the early 1990’s, job security and employee loyalty were pushed aside in a new economy. An unhappy or fired employee could leave a job confident in finding a new one.
But the landscape has changed again.
Looking for a job in 2009? No one has to tell you that it’s a fiercely competitive buyer’s market. Unless you grew up next door to the hiring manager, a resume is likely your only shot at wedging a toe in the door. That thing has to demonstrate your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Oh– and don’t forget sing your praises without being obvious.
Does that leave you feeling hopeless, wondering, what do I do with those “gaping holes” – the gaps in employment due to chronic illness?
Many of my clients – folks like you living with chronic illness and worrying about their jobs/careers — get stuck here. I’ve seen more than one who was unable to look for a job for fear of explaining the gap.
Let’s face it. It’s one thing to say that you opted out for a few years off to be with your children — or to work for yourself (although that’s career counselors will tell you that’s not always a plus either). But it’s a different kettle of fish when time off was due to illness.
The former doesn’t impact your ability to be a reliable employee. The latter does. But this doesn’t have to stop you. Over the years, I’ve developed 3 pitfalls to avoid in your resumes when you live with chronic illness and have employment gaps:
- Don’t include anything about illness or even visible disability on your resume — unless it is an asset in getting the job.
- Don’t lie but you can make what you did during the unemployment sound career building — even if you never left your house!
- Don’t let your own shame or disappointment in not working for periods of time stop you from applying for a job.
Here are some concrete ideas – not illness specific but very useful — that can help you write that resume:
- In “Disguising Employment Gaps on Your Resume“, Susan Ireland writes that most employers “don’t like gaps”. She offers 4 helpful tips for dealing with employment gaps.
- In Explaining the Gap, tips include explaining the gap in the interview (rather than on the resume), downplaying dates and use recessions to your advantage.
- In How to Explain a Gap in Unemployment, there are 7 good ideas. My favorites are: practicing w/a friend, don’t let it make you so nervous you overlook your strengths, and be honest and succinct about the gap.
What have you done about this? Do you find the resume stumps you and why? Click through the headline (if you subscribe and got this as an email) and go online to respond!