Addressing unemployment in a job application

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Addressing unemployment in a job application

Postby Dave Walker » Wed May 06, 2015 3:10 pm

I was reading the latest Tooling Up and got tripped up on this paragraph: "Brief periods of unemployment are common. Longer periods spent caring for young children or aging parents are common, too. Properly presented, such things can work to your advantage. Hidden, they’re likely to become a problem."

What is the best way to properly present unemployment?

My first thought was to do it in the cover letter, in the last paragraph. But I couldn't think of a good way to say, "You may notice a gap in my job history. I was job searching for three months between work at X and Y." Wouldn't this set up a red flag in the hiring manager's mind?

Certainly it doesn't go in the resume?

And what if one was fired? Is this something you can really get in front of on a resume / cover letter? What about only nodding to it then and speaking about it candidly in an interview?

Of course it's foolish to hide from ever mentioning unemployment especially if it's a leave of absence. It will ultimately come out in the application process. But since I have not had the particular joy of being terminated yet in my career, I wonder what the best approach is when moving on.
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Re: Addressing unemployment in a job application

Postby Rich Lemert » Wed May 06, 2015 5:28 pm

Personally, I wouldn't even worry about a gap of only three or four months. It's short enough that many people won't even notice it, and for those that do you can just say "it took longer than I expected to find a new position."

It's when the gap starts getting into the one or two years (or more) that people are going to be concerned. What I've done is just put a remark at the end of my resume saying "xxxx-yyyy spend caring for my father after heart surgery."

As for being fired, I've never put a 'reason for leaving' in my resume or my cover letter. Some on-line application systems do ask for this, and I'd just select the 'terminated' option if that's what's applicable. It will be asked about, so have your response ready. Otherwise, your resume should be a forward-looking ("here's why I'm a good fit for your job") description of your past.
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Re: Addressing unemployment in a job application

Postby Lydia » Thu May 07, 2015 8:31 am

I have an obvious 2 year gap on my resume between my postdoc and my current position. I am currently job hunting. Very few people giving feedback on my resume have suggested that I do anything to address it. I worry that calling it out on my resume or cover letter to note that I took time off to care for a young child would be more harmful than helpful. If asked in an interview (this has not happened), I plan to explain that I stayed home for 2 years with my 1st child, but missed working and did not stay home with subsequent children. It was definitely an issue when I first returned to work, but honestly more a problem in my own head than for most people/companies I interviewed with. I would be hesitant to take a job with anyone who would make my past employment gap an issue.
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Re: Addressing unemployment in a job application

Postby PG » Mon May 11, 2015 7:00 am

My advice would be not to worry about it. Gaps in between earlier positions are not a big thing (at least not around here). As the job market have looked during the last few years gaps are common and since you now have a position you also have current references that people can talk to. Be ready to comment during an interview if the question comes up but I dont see a need of commenting already in your application.
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Re: Addressing unemployment in a job application

Postby Yandorio » Fri May 15, 2015 12:08 am

The stigma of trying to get a job when you're unemployed is
like the paradox of getting a date--when you're single
it's hard to get a date, but when you're hitched and don't
even need the company the phone starts ringing off the hook.
Sociologists are still trying to figure it out.
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