Thursday, February 22, 2007

At a Loss for Words on Resume

I have been unemployed for a year. I need to update my resume, but I can find the correct words, or sentences to explain why I have been unemployed for a year. Will you help me?

by Honey Smith, Professional Life Coach

There's a lot of good resume advice out there on how to "position" gaps in your work life to enhance rather than detract from your qualifications, along with examples of how others have managed this tricky feat. Susan Ireland's The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume book is one excellent resource.

Ana, what struck me most about your question was what it didn't say. It didn’t tell us why you are unemployed, what you've been doing while you've been "work-free," what your work history was like previous to your unemployment, and, most important, what kind of job you're currently looking for.

I’m wondering if your year of unemployment is due to an uncomfortable experience in your life. If that’s the case, the following set of questions might be important to answer (with the support of a friend or counselor, or even on your own) before you even think about writing your resume.

1. What's hard for you about explaining the past year?

2. Did you leave your last job under stressful conditions? Were you fired? Were you sick or preoccupied with personal commitments? Did you quit?

3. Do the factors that led, even partly, to being unemployed last year, still play a part in your life?

4. If so, how will you use what you learned this year to seek jobs that are right for you?

5. How will you be a better employee because of this year's experience?

6. If your situation is different now, how will you show future employers that this was an uncharacteristic and minor blip on the map of your overall work history?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be ready to move ahead with writing your resume and searching for a job you’ll really love and keep.

Good luck with your job search and do leave us a comment to tell us how things work out!

Honey Smith, Ed.M. is a Professional Life Coach who helps job seekers fast forward their careers, master life transitions and fulfill their potential.

Susan Ireland’s Two Cents
Ana, the following posts in The Job Lounge address gaps in employment, including current spans of unemployment.
Gaps and Layoffs and Resumes, Oh My!
Gaps in Work History

Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email ( it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.

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