Thursday, April 10, 2008

Career Gap on Resume

Question
I was a Landscape Architect with over a 15 years experience, licensed and educated with a degree in the field. (It is a fairly narrow profession). I faded out of that career in 2001 and became a self-employed, on-line bookseller with every intention of not going back into L/arch.

However, I have changed my mind! I am eager to re-enter the profession because I miss the challenge, the people and working on creative projects.

My question is: Do you think I should "expose my gap" in L/arch in the cover letter, in my resume or at the interview?? There is no way I can hide this fact, nor do I want to... In the architectural field we usually show a portfolio at the interview and I have nothing to show after 2001... Being a bookseller does not mean I was unemployed, it's just that most of these firms will want to know who I am presently working for and what projects I am working on. Personally, I do not consider it a working gap, but a career gap. What do you think? -- Cliff

Answer
Cliff, you are right to consider this a career gap, not an employment gap. Here's what I suggest you do:

Use the chronological resume format. As the first entry at the top of your Experience section put:

2001 - present, Freelance Landscape Architect (concurrent with online sales venture)
- Mention a few landscape projects that you've done during this time (I'm sure you didn't keep you hands out of the soil or off the drawing board!) The projects can be ones at your own home or ones you volunteered for in the community. Don't forget to include interesting projects you consulted on like that hillside landscaping in your neighbor's backyard, the redesign of your aunt's rock garden, and other projects you gave advice for.
- Briefly refer to administrative aspects of your online business that are relevant to working for a landscape company. Maybe you designed marketing pages, used your database skills, or your customer service talents to enhance business.
- If your online book business specialized in selling landscape-related books, include something about that.

Taking this approach on your resume will show the employer that your love of landscape architecture is very much alive. There's no need to bring up the online business in your cover letter. The issue may arise in your job interview so practice how you'll talk about it then, keeping the emphasis on the thread of passion for landscaping.

In the meantime, try to get some freelance work in the field so you can continue to build your resume as you conduct your job search.

Good luck!

1 comment:

David B. Wright said...

This is a very useful post. I blogged it on the Job Search Strategist at http://jobs.jimstroud.com

To your success,

David B. Wright
Author, Get A Job! Your Guide to Making Successful Career Moves
www.thegetajobbook.com