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Great Resume Fillers for Long Employment Gaps

June 5, 2012

Not long ago, President Obama announced steps to protect the unemployed from a new form of prejudice and unfair treatment.

In March of this year, the CBN News Channel, described the challenge of proving that bias against the long-term unemployed exists.  While a number of states are working to address this issue, even if a bill making it unlawful is passed, unemployed men and women need to take matters in to their own hands.

If you’ve been out of work for quite some time, consider using some of these strategies to de-emphasize employment gaps.

Volunteer:  Become a long-term, committed volunteer for a non-profit and earn a title that can go on the resume.  Chair a committee that drives the direction of the organization or helps them raise money.  Those are skills that translate into great resume builders.  Make sure you treat volunteering like a job.  Show up on time, do what you’ve promised, say yes when ever possible and don’t bring your baggage.  You never know when you’re actually auditioning for your next job.  Volunteering not only looks great on your resume, it offers an outstanding opportunity for connected people to see you in action – which will put you on their radar screen when they have or learn about an opening.

Set yourself up in a small business:  President Obama’ job creation agenda might need to start with you!  What skills do you have that you can use to help others?  What things do you enjoy doing that other people need?  Start looking around for opportunities to create your own job, but make sure you follow business protocol to avoid any legal and tax issues.  Enterprise Centers, the Small Business Association, and other organizations like the Urban League, offer workshops and support for start-ups.  Even if you’re not making a mint, you’ll gain valuable business acumen and have something for your resume that fills that shows drive and initiative — making you incredibly attractive to hiring managers.

Go back to school.  Your unemployment status has likely changed your eligibility status for grants and loans.  Investigate now to see if you can get money you couldn’t when your income was flowing.  The extra benefit is that employers are looking for people who can bring them into the future.  Educating yourself will position you to do just that.

Work for family:  Check the family tree for someone who owns a business or needs support?  Even if they only pay you minimum wage or per project, you’ll get a little pocket change, additional marketable skills and you can put it on your resume.

Network:  This may not be a resume builder, but it has become one of the best job-hunting tools for the times. Too often people hide behind computers, sending out resume after resume.  The truth is employers don’t hire resumes; they hire people they know or who come highly recommended.  Spend some of that time online looking for networking opportunities.  Brush off those business clothes and get out there.  This is foreign to a great deal of the workforce who never needed to do this before, but it has become an absolute necessity.  Identify associations that are in your field.  For women, there are organizations like eWomenNetwork and NAWBO.  Look at events hosted by your local chamber or business associations.  Some events will cost you, but many events are free.  One hour of making human connections trumps many hours in front of a computer.

The old ways of finding a job are obsolete.  The employment ads are more about fulfilling EEO requirements and less about finding actual candidates.  Today’s market requires that you become a living, breathing resume – your actions and connections might be your only way in.  Even the most skillfully written resume and cover letter won’t rise above a person who is well-networked and/or visibly proves they have the right stuff.

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