Dear NIC Online: I’m moving to Canada soon, and I haven’t yet secured employment there. How can I address potential career gaps on my resume?
Gappy Job Seeker
Dear Gappy Job Seeker:
Career gaps happen for many reasons – starting a family, completing a bridging program, caring for a loved one, and moving to a new country are some of these possible reasons. When preparing a resume, you may be concerned about how these employment pauses could hurt your chances of landing a job interview. There are different ways to address a career break while making a good impression on the hiring manager. Here are three of them.
Cover the gap
When you include a Relevant Work Experience heading on your resume, you are implying that the list of positions listed is not exhaustive and that you are only communicating the work experience that is relevant for the job. When you focus on relevant experience, you may also want to address the gap on your cover letter.
Over the past six months, I took time off work to relocate to Canada. During this time, applied and fine-tuned my adaptation skills. I’m incredibly excited about the opportunities that come with this relocation, such as this position.
Include the gap in your employment chronology
Write your resume using a chronological format. Explain the career gap in the Work Experience section of your resume. Keep it short and positive. If you can, find a way to describe something you accomplished during the employment break.
Bridging Program for IEPs, York University, 2015-2017
Upgraded engineering skills through the completion of 8 bridging courses and a certification examination.
Sabbatical, Compassionate Care Leave, 2017-2018
You do not need to add details about this type of gap.
Volunteer to fill the gap
Your work experience can and should include relevant paid, unpaid, co-op, and internship experience. Volunteering is defined as an unpaid experience. Look for volunteering opportunities that are aligned with your profession. Remember that volunteering is also an excellent way to
- Expand your professional network,
- Gain new skills, and
- Become familiar with the Canadian workplace Culture in a safe environment.
For more information about how a volunteering experience can benefit your career in Canada, read this blog article.
If you opt for disclosing the gap, remember that these employment pauses are not unusual and it is OK to have them. Be prepared to address the career gaps in a positive way using neutral language. Stress lessons learned and new-acquired skills on your cover letter and during the job interview.
Otherwise, use volunteering, side jobs, and professional development courses to fill gaps on your resume.