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Employment gaps can pose a challenge when you’re ready to go back to work, as potential employers may question why you took time away from your career. However, it is possible to craft your cover letter and resume in a way that portrays this gap as an asset rather than a liability. Even your resume’s objective statement can be tailored to show your enthusiasm for reentering the workforce.
A resume objective statement’s purpose is to make it clear to your potential employer, in one brief statement, exactly which position you are best suited for. This may mean you do not state that you are reentering the workforce in your objective; that information may be more appropriate to include in your cover letter. If you know the exact position you want at the company, state it in your objective. If you do not know what positions are available, use your objective to explain what type of work you specialize in, or name the industry you are most interested in.
An objective should call the employer’s attention to your future, not your past. When drafting your objective statement, Broward College recommends making a list of your career goals, your main strengths, the type of position you want and the kind of organization for which you want to work. Regardless of how long you have been away from the workforce, your objective statement should explain what you want now. If you are returning to the same career, phrases such as “resume my work with environmental science” or “call upon my expertise in finance and economics” may be useful.
Depending on what you did during your employment gap, you may be able to use your experience to put a positive spin on your resume objective. For example, if you performed volunteer work, consider the duties and responsibilities you held, or any awards you received, and use them as achievements in your objective to show that you continued to grow and increase your skills set during your time away. Use action verbs to describe your duties; “served on the PTA” sounds fine, but “collaborated with parents and teachers as a member of the PTA” is more specific.
Avoid including why you left the workforce in the objective, particularly if the circumstances were negative. Perhaps you were fired or couldn’t find a job for over a year. While these things may not have been your fault, focusing on them will not improve your chances of catching an employer's attention.
Kara Page has been a freelance writer and editor since 2007. She maintains several blogs on travel, music, food and more. She is also a contributing writer for Suite101 and has articles published on eHow and Answerbag. Page holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of North Texas.