Managing The Gaps In Your Resume

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

 Coach Johnson was both excited and relieved as he just completed his first season as the new baseball coach at West Coast State College.  His team made great progress in their initial season.  Two year’s ago, Coach Johnson’s contract was not renewed after leading a small college baseball team for the previous 11 years.

With his experience, he thought he would land another job quite quickly.  After several months of searching for a new position he finally decided to volunteer his services with a baseball program near his hometown. His strategy was to stay in the industry and minimize the gap in his employment.  After one year as a volunteer assistant, Coach Johnson was able to become a head coach again, this time at West Coast State College.

Whether you’re a veteran in the sports industry like Coach Johnson or just completing your internship, this strategy of staying active in the industry is just one approach you can use to remain in the profession.  By staying active in the profession you are effectively managing potential gaps in your employment.  The following are six strategies you can use to manage employment gaps in your resume:

Stay Active In The Industry – One of the most important strategies for minimizing gaps in your resume is to stay active in the industry.  This might be as a volunteer coach or administrator in a high school or college athletic department, taking a role in an organization that is closely related to your profession, or even being a consultant in the industry.  As a consultant you might not make much money (if any) but you might be able to help a friend or a colleague with a project, which in turn keeps you active in the industry.

Use Your Contacts – Quite often when a person loses their job, they retreat into a shell.  You can’t do this.  You need to let your friends and colleagues know that you are actively looking for a job.  Be up front with them and let them know that you are actively searching for a job and ask them if they know of any job openings.

Properly Format Your Resume – If you are unemployed for any length of time, you can minimize the gap in your resume by listing your employment in years instead of months.  This could eliminate any noticeable gaps in your resume and might eliminate any red flags in your employment history.

Be Prepared To Explain Your Gap – If you have a gap in your resume, be prepared to explain why you weren’t employed for this period of time.  You don’t want to be untruthful, or speak negatively about your previous employer, but have a good reason for your employment coming to an end.  This could be that your contract wasn’t renewed when a new president was hired, or that your internship came to an end.  Whatever the reason, make sure you have a well-rehearsed explanation that turns a negative into a positive.  This could include an answer like “my contract wasn’t renewed when a new athletic director was hired, but I see this as an opportunity for me to bring my expertise to another school.”  Then continue the answer by explaining your strengths, abilities and unique skills, and how these attributes will help their athletic department.  You need to get the interviewers excited about the possibilities you bring to their institution.

Gain More Training – If you aren’t able to stay employed in the profession, you will need to stay active in the industry.  This could be by taking a class that will help to further your skills and abilities.  This strategy could also assist you in how you are able to answer the questions about your employment gap.  Additional education and training could include taking a course in social media if you are pursuing jobs in sports information or marketing, or could include a course in NCAA compliance if your area of expertise is compliance.

Get Outstanding Recommendations – It is vitally important that you have 3-5 people in the industry who will provide you with an outstanding recommendation.  If you can’t trust what a former employer will say about you, don’t use them.  A person doesn’t always need a former employer as a reference.  The key is that you have 3-5 great references.

These are six strategies you can use to help manage the gap in your employment.  Being unemployed is an extremely stressful life event.  By implementing sound strategies in your job search process, you can reduce both the stress from your job search and also the length of your employment gap.  Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job search process.  In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS! 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.

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