How to explain unemployment on your CV, resume and LinkedIn

As we know, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. That’s all well and good, but try telling it to your future boss. While most hiring managers understand that unemployment is part and parcel of working life, as a job seeker, the anxiety of deciding how to reveal your job loss to a prospective employer can make an already challenging situation even more stressful.

Fortunately, there are always things you can do to soften the impact of any employment gap on your application or job-seeking material.

Being upfront about your current job status is usually the more sensible strategy and will avoid any potentially awkward recriminations. Removing the ‘Current Role’ or equivalent heading from your CV/ resume is an obvious first step, while also making sure to switch your last role from ‘current’ to ‘previous’ on your LinkedIn profile.

That said, there’s no requirement to label yourself as ‘currently’ unemployed, nor is there a need to detail the exact length of your employment gap in months (years are fine for long periods of hiatus). The same applies to covering letters: clearly state that you are looking for work, without necessarily feeling obligated to go into details about the hows and whys of your unemployment.

Having opened up about your employment status, it’s up to you to paint as positive a picture of your situation as possible.

Employers will naturally be wary of skill atrophy, especially if you’ve been a long time out of the workforce, so look to include details of temporary or consulting work at the top of your CV. Volunteering is also important and LinkedIn now provides users with a separate section dedicated to detailing this kind of work experience on their profile page.

In both cases, make sure to highlight any significant achievements or skills you have learnt, and how these have contributed to your professional development. These, along with further study or training, are all things you can showcase in more detail in your covering letter.

Being out of work can happen to the best of us and is certainly nothing to feel ashamed about. Yet it’s still up to you to present the experience in the best possible light and to show it hasn’t dulled your abilities or enthusiasm for your work.

11 Jun 2015
Reference: Forbes; Business Insider: Fast Company; The Guardian