If you are one of 14.8 million Americans who are unemployed, you may be dealing with how to explain your absence from the working world to potential employers. No hiring manager likes to see big gaps between jobs, but there are several good explanations that you can offer to minimize the job-gaps on your resume. Follow these tips to avoid gaping holes in your resume. (Learn more in Top 8 Ways To Get Your Resume Thrown Out.)

IN PICTURES: 6 Career-Killing Facebook Mistakes

Formatting
You can adjust the formatting of dates to eliminate the appearance of obvious unemployment streaks. For example, change any "Month/Year" references to state only the year.

For example:

Server: June 2003 – April 2005

Sales Associate: February 2006 – May 2007

Changes to:

Server: 2003 – 2005

Sales Associate: 2006 – 2007

Suddenly, that 10-month period of unemployment doesn't seem so obvious. Of course, if you're asked for particular dates, you're busted, but this method reduces the chance of having to explain prolonged unemployment.

Fill In the Blanks
If you do have significant gaps in your resume, it isn't the end of the world. Consider what you did spend your time doing during those periods. Did you volunteer, learn new skills or were there extenuating circumstances that kept you out of the workplace? This can all have a place on your resume if it adequately explains/justifies a prolonged absence.

For example, upon graduating, you may not have been able to get a job right away, but if you volunteered in a position related to your desired field, the mention of it turns a negative gap into a positive sign of devotion to your career path. If you were downsized but spent your time out of work taking classes or freelancing to update your skills, that's another great attribute. Listing these activities helps to paint you as a proactive person who, even if down on your luck job-wise, continues to actively seek ways to improve.

IN PICTURES: 6 Ways To Recession-Proof Your Financial Job

Streamlined Resumes
Don't feel like you have to account for 100% of your time from your childhood on. It is perfectly acceptable (and in many cases, in your best interest) to keep your listed work experience to only those jobs which are relevant to the position you are applying for. If you were out of work for a year during high school, this isn't going to be a big strike against you. Just be sure to include any activities, such as education, that would keep you from working.

Answer Honestly …
If you were let go because of a problem with your performance, and your interviewer asks for specifics, be honest. Explain what the problem was, but focus on what you did to resolve the issue or to ensure it didn't happen again. If you were out of work because of health or personal issues or because of a personal crisis (a parent taking ill or passing away, for example), mention it succinctly and again, focus on what you have done to remedy the problem (or how you are keeping it under control) and how the experience has improved you. Don't feel like you have to volunteer this information, unless it is an extremely obvious gap on your resume and even then, be concise – your employer can always ask if they need more details. (Learn more in 6 Tips For A No-Experience Resume.)

… But Don't Play the Blame Game
Always answer questions concerning sensitive issues diplomatically - no bad-mouthing former employers! Doing so will make your interviewer wonder if you'll do the same thing to them in the future. Before you even submit your resume, make a list of all the gaps you are concerned about and write out what happened, how you resolved it and why it won't happen again. If there was an issue with a former co-worker or boss, don't name names. If there was a personal issue, don't go into detail – simply state the basic facts of what happened and when.

Remember, employers are looking for stable employees, but that doesn't mean issues won't arise. A stable employee is one who can handle the hurdles life puts up and learn from the challenges they presented.

The Bottom Line
Be upfront and confident - life happens. Employers aren't looking for someone who never experiences challenges; rather, they want someone who is capable of handling them. More often than not, the gaps in your resume are nothing to be ashamed of. Just make sure you highlight the positive from every situation. (For more, check out 7 Ways Your Resume Dates You.)

For the latest financial news, see Water Cooler Finance: The Beginning Of A Foreclosure Crisis?

Related Articles
  1. Investing News

    Latest Labor Numbers: Good News for the Market?

    Some economic numbers are indicating that the labor market is outperforming the stock market. Should investors be bullish?
  2. Budgeting

    Lost Your Job? 6 Things to Do Immediately

    If you’ve lost your job, shoring up your finances as best you can will make it easier to get back on your feet again when that next position rolls around.
  3. Professionals

    Broker Or Trader: Which Career Is Right For You?

    Both brokers and traders buy and sell securities, but there are some subtle differences between the two careers.
  4. Credit & Loans

    Top 5 Reasons Why People Go Bankrupt

    The biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States is medical expenses.
  5. Professionals

    Financial Career Options For Professionals

    A career in finance can take a business professional down many different paths.
  6. FA

    The Basics of The Series 79 Exam

    Passing the Series 79 exam is usually necessary for anyone who wants to work in investment banking.
  7. Professionals

    10 Steps To A Career In Hedge Funds

    The first step to getting your hedge fund career started is to be sure you really want to work for a hedge fund. If you do, it’ll show in your actions.
  8. Professionals

    Business Analyst: Job Description & Average Salary

    Learn the different types of business analyst careers available; understand the skills and education needed and the salary you can expect to make.
  9. Entrepreneurship

    How To Make Money With Domain Names

    Domain names are hot commodities in today’s tech-centric world, and for good reason.
  10. Professionals

    How To Get A Job On Wall Street

    Although Wall Street has its share of problems, finding people who want to become traders isn’t one of them.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Does a financial advisor need an MBA?

    Obtaining a license as a financial adviser does not require an Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The Certified ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are the best free online calculators for calculating my taxable income?

    Free online calculators for determining your taxable income are located at Bankrate.com, TaxACT.com and Moneychimp.com. Determining ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does comprehensive income get reported on my 1040?

    As of 2015, on the standard IRS Form 1040, your comprehensive or total income is calculated through lines 7-22. This is different ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can an investment banker switch to a career in corporate finance?

    It's pretty easy for an investment banker to switch to a career in corporate finance. The career skills are easily transferable, ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do I get started with a career in asset management?

    The asset management industry has a variety of different career paths. Depending on what asset management area you would ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Harry Potter Stock Index

    A collection of stocks from companies related to the "Harry Potter" series franchise. Created by StockPickr, this index seeks ...
  2. Liquidation Margin

    Liquidation margin refers to the value of all of the equity positions in a margin account. If an investor or trader holds ...
  3. Black Swan

    An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult ...
  4. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  5. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
Trading Center