Whether you took a little time off to have children, or you just thought you no longer wanted to work, re-entering the workplace can present a formidable challenge. Many potential employers will be eager to learn why you left the workplace -- and to infer whether you will again make an exit. Help quell their worries by penning a masterful resume that shows your appropriateness as a candidate despite your time away from the workforce.
Key Achievements Section
Mixing it up a bit can make your resume more impressive and downplay your years off the job. Instead of starting with a chronological listing of your jobs, begin with a section titled “Key Achievements.” In this section, outline some of the most substantial successes from your work history as a whole. Below this, provide the traditional chronological list. By doing so, you can place your strengths front and center while still giving your resume viewer what he is expecting -- a glimpse at your employment history.
Highlight Volunteerism and Training
Though you generally only mention volunteerism and recent training in passing on your resume, putting a greater emphasis on it when returning to the workforce can be beneficial. Prove that you didn’t just sit on your duff while between jobs by listing recent training or volunteer efforts -- particularly if they were industry specific -- in chronological order. Include dates so savvy resume readers can see what you were doing during that glaring resume gap. Instead of hiding these at the end of the resume, put them immediately after your employment history so they become part of the same timeline.
If you plan on dusting off a yellowed paper copy of your resume and presenting it to prospective employers, think again. Many companies now only accept electronic resumes, reminds Jack Matson, director of staff relations and recruitment for Syracuse University. After revamping your resume, save a PDF copy for use in online applications. By adeptly transitioning to the use of an electronic resume, you can show perspective employers that, though you have been gone for a while, you are hip to the new ways of the working world.
Use Your Cover Letter
Don’t leave that gaping hole in your resume un-explained and think that potential employers won’t notice. Provide a brief explanation for your exit from the workforce in your cover letter, recommends Helen Coster for “Forbes.com." Unlike your resume, which should contain only facts, you are allowed some room in your cover letter to elaborate. Take advantage and make your case.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.