Hello Ask Alexis,
For about eight months after leaving my social services job, I took a transitional, non-career-related position. I was wondering if is best to list this job on my resume or leave it out and explain the gap during an interview?
It's great to hear that you accepted a new position during your transition, even if it felt unrelated to the work in which you were previously engaged.
Since you'd be leaving a sizable resume gap (that isn't actually a gap at all!) by removing the position from your resume, I'd suggest including the position on your resume. Of course, you'll want to be prepared to speak to why you accepted the position since it's doesn't sound like it was an obvious next step on your career path.
I'd also go a step further and challenge you to spend some time thinking about what you gained from the role. Even if there's no clear connection between the work you did during that eight-month period and the work you see yourself doing moving forward, I'm willing to bet that you walked away with some new (or newly honed) skills.
Employers tend to have biases in regards to employment gaps, and when they do look unfavorably at a gap, it puts the job seeker at a disadvantage. While there is some backlash against those types of biases, plenty of recruiters and hiring managers still view gaps as a red flag. And given that the consensus among recruiters is that they typically spend only about six seconds in an initial scan of a resume, I’d suggest eliminating as many potential red flags as possible (gaps included!).
And while I can’t offer precise advice on which transferable skills you should play up on your resume, I can guess that the eight-month job may have required punctuality, organizational skills, and an exceptional rapport with customers. How might these (and other) skills relate to the type of job you want to do next? This is what you should include on your document. Omit any rote tasks that don’t relate to the job, and play up your strengths and successes!
Before rewriting your resume, be sure to carefully review the job listing to determine what skills are required. Your resume, particularly the bullet points for your “unrelated” job, should clearly include those skills. Fit your resume to the type of work you are currently pursuing. I find that it helps to tailor your resume to a specific job listing, so you can really make a clear connection between the employer’s needs and your skills and accomplishments. While it might be more time-consuming, I’ve always been a big believer of quality over quantity!
To your success,
Send your questions and comments to me at AskAlexis@idealist.org, and if we plan to publish your question, I’ll be sure to give you a heads up (and I’ll also be sure to keep your info anonymous, of course).
Looking forward to reading your stories and answering your questions!