Monday, February 12, 2007

Employment Gap Because of School

I left a job in 2005 to finish college. I worked at the job from 95-05. My question is how should I fill the gap on my resume under job experience between 2005 and now? I hate to leave a blank space even though I am graduating from college in May.

by Bob McDonald, Director of Career Services

Sometimes, gaps in your work history are impossible to avoid. But you felt that your education was more important to your well-being than trying to juggle both work and school, and that’s something to be proud of. And you’re not alone. I’m currently working with individuals who made the same decision in their lives.

But how to fill the gap? First, and most important, view your education as a positive and play up the benefit it will bring you in the workforce. This can be put into your cover letter, where you can spend a paragraph describing what items you learned and how they can best be used in the job you are applying for.

As for your resume, because you have such an extensive work history prior to returning to school, I would suggest utilizing a Combination or Analytical Resume, which combines the most usable attributes of both the functional and chronological resumes.

With this resume format, you will want to break out your skill set categories. I generally recommend three or four bullet points per skill category. Always remember to keep your bullets in phrase format. After that, outline the achievements and accomplishments you attained while you were still working.

Another suggestion would be to think of any activities (volunteering, consulting, freelance work, etc.) that you did while in school. If this applies, mention those as well. It’s another way to fill in the gap.

Bob McDonald works with IT and health services vocational students at the Cleveland, Ohio campus of TechSkills.

Susan Ireland’s Two Cents
Following Bob’s advice above, know that in the combination resume format you can list your current schooling as your most recent “job” in the body of your resume. It might look something like this:

2005-pres., Student, Business Administration Program, (graduation May 2007)
ABC University, City, State

Also, check out’s blog, where there a lot of Q&As about college graduates and their job searches.

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