Thursday, July 21, 2016

Recruiters will focus on you ... if you are a purple squirrel

Purple squirrels are valuable to a recruiter. But if you are not one, well maybe not so much, so don't count on much help. 

When I was an executive recruiter I learned a lot about how the recruiting industry works. I learned if you want to use them, it's important to understand what makes them tick and how to market yourself effectively.

There are differences between internal recruiters that are employees of a hiring company, and external recruiters, those who work for recruiting firms.

They have several things in common:
  • Both are measured by finding top talent.
  • They behave differently because they are paid differently.
  • Neither will always be completely truthful with you.

The internal recruiter: 
  • Is an employee of the hiring company.
  • Is not rewarded financially for filling jobs. Is paid a regular salary which may not be a lot.
  • May or may not understand your discipline very well.
  • Often views work as a 9 to 5 job.
  • Often has many other responsibilities in addition to recruiting.

The external recruiter: 
  • Works for a recruiting firm
  • Typically works on a commission-only basis, is only paid if the candidate is hired.
  • Can earn very large income. Is paid a big percentage of the huge service fee the firm receives. 
  • But usually there are several months of delay before the recruiter receives payment for a placement, therefore he/she is under constant pressure to place new candidates and must make many calls each day to keep the 'pipeline' filled.
  • Therefore views you as a meal ticket, someone to focus on if you are a "purple squirrel", otherwise may have little interest in you.
  • While there is potential for high earnings, the reality is, the probability of making a lot of money is not high, which leads to making many prospecting calls vs. staying in touch with you.

The takeaway is this: Create a resume that postures you as a “purple squirrel”. Otherwise don't rely on getting much attention from either type of recruiter. 

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

6 ideas for better networking

Successful job seekers have learned the best way to find a job is to speak to hiring managers before applying. The most effective way to get hired is to be referred directly to the hiring manager by a current employee. An effective way to find current employees is by networking.

People who network successfully do the following things:
·         Use all possible networking venues: 'By-chance' meetings, Formal meetings, Casual activities, LinkedIn, Social Media, everything.
·         When meeting people for the first time they ask simple questions that show interest in other person, like "What do you do?", "How is your day going?", "Where are you from?" These are easy questions particularly if you have a more introverted personality.
·         They keep asking questions to draw the other person out and are always looking for common ground to establish rapport.
·         In the beginning of a networking conversation, they avoid saying they may be seeking a new job. Starting conversations by saying they are job hunting tends to put people on the spot and may cause them to become defensive.
·         They make themselves likable by showing interest, establishing trust, and offering help before seeking it.
·         If they are using LinkedIn or other social media they check the other person's profile, looking for topics the other person is interested in to ask about.

The most successful networkers do not focus on themselves.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

How to Write a Script for Calling a Hiring Manager

Calling the hiring manager BEFORE you send your resume is the most successful approach for getting a job. It is best to have a practiced script for the first things you say to the hiring manager.

The 4 objectives of the call to hiring manager are:
  • To introduce yourself and establish rapport and find common ground
  • To gather information about the hiring managers needs for the position
  • To engage the hiring manager in a telephone interview (TI) that leads to a face-face (FF) interview
  • To set expectations for what is to happen next, by whom, and when before the end of the call

The script should include:
  • A request for permission to talk; ask if the person has a few moments
  • A very brief introduction about who you are and what you do
  • A statement that establishes rapport: Engage in conversation before indicating you are looking for a job; Ask about key challenges/hot buttons & describe your success in resolving challenges
  • A request to send your resume: Get the hiring manager's email address
  • Set expectations before ending the call (what - who - when) for the hiring manager

Some Do's and Don'ts:
  • Don't end the call without setting expectations or you will be left wondering what to do if you don't hear back after some period.
  • Don't open with "I'm seeking a job" - That sets up automatic defenses. Let it come out from the nature of the questions and answers in the conversation after establishing rapport.
  • Do research before the call. Learn all you can about the company, its history, what's new, what's happening, etc. And, if possible, learn about the hiring manager, background, likes, personality, managing style.
  • Do align yourself with the company/hiring manager as you establish rapport. Tell them how you are like them.

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The #1 way to get hired

Most people pound the job boards to find an opening and apply directly online.  Sometimes that works, but it is far less than 2% effective. It's what everyone else does. And it drops them directly into the automated "system", ATS, where they are most likely to be rejected without a response.

The solution is to make direct contact with the hiring manager before applying. That's the most effective way to get hired. Use job boards to research jobs, then apply offline through the hiring manager. Don't lull yourself into thinking you are making progress on job boards.

But what if you don't know who the hiring manager is? Fortunately there are options for finding them:

The most effective approach is to be referred by a current employee. Often companies have  an Employee Referral Program (ERP) in which employees who refer candidates receive a cash bonus if the candidate is hired.

If you know someone at the company, ask them to refer you. If you don't know someone, use LinkedIn to search for all employees at the company and try to connect with them. Sometimes your search will uncover the hiring manager.

Try doing a Google search. Enter the company name, department name (guess at several or use a functional name like Sales), and the word "manage" or director or vice president or other title. Try different combinations.

Start at the top. Identify a senior manager and work your way down to the hiring manager. If the company is public you can find senior managers by searching online via the SEC for K-1 reports, which give lots names plus other information you should learn about the company anyway.

Network formally and informally for names.

Cold-call into the company. This sales technique can work for you too. It does require you to learn cold-calling technique skills if you don't already know them.

Working through the hiring manager is second to none when it comes to getting a job. Finding the right name sometimes requires some ingenuity.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

2 ways to make your resume stand out

One way is to have a perfectly horrible resume that gets tossed immediately.

The other is to have a resume that clearly shows how you meet the specific needs of the hiring manager and is compatible with the ATS parsing software that will 'read' it.

To get an interview the resume should focus on by citing achievements, results and skills that are needed by the hiring manager. Lacking these, the hiring manager will have no interest.

To respond to needs, after every statement you write ask yourself, "So what? Others can do this too. What did I achieve? What was the result? How did it benefit the business?" Since all managers must achieve certain goals, it is logical that they are chiefly interested in what you have achieved that may help them. If your resume says nothing about your achievements it is unlikely they will want to talk to you.

In addition, most medium and large size companies today utilize ATS software on the front end of their hiring process. When you apply online on job boards or company websites, your resume is analyzed by parsing software associated with ATS before any human ever knows about you. Information in your resume is extracted, scored and entered into a common ATS form for everyone that applies. Only those candidates who receive a high score will be sent to a human for review. The reviewer receives the forms created by ATS, not your resume. Your actual resume can be retrieved later if they so desire.

Because of ATS technology, resume writing has become complex. Not only must you know what keywords ATS will be looking for, you must use them in context. But that is the simple part. ATS parsing software will not be able to 'read' your resume if you have unwittingly built in attributes commonly used in word processing software. Some of the more common are headers, footers, tables, and columns. Even the file type is important. So be careful. 

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

11 Tips to Make Your Resume ATS Compatible

ATS parsing software is used to reduce many candidates to a short list. To get on the short list your resume must contain key words and phrases the parsing software is looking for, used in context. But ATS can be confounded by other attributes you may unwittingly build into your resume. 

The following provides guidance on how to avoid being rejected because of some of the key attributes.

Keep it Simple. Use a simple document format, not a fancy one. Keep in mind that computers do not have eyes.

Put your Name on the First Line, By Itself. The last word on the first line will be interpreted as your last name. 

Do Not Use Graphics! Period! Make sure you understand what constitutes a graphic.

Do Not Use word processor Toolbar tools that utilize graphics in the background. Not always obvious.

Do Not Nest job titles under one company. ATS prefers you to repeat the company name for each position held with dates for each position. No, ATS will not think you are a job-hopper.

Do Not Use Columns.

Use Only One Font, preferably san-serif one like Arial 12pt.

Use Section Titles that ATS looks for, e.g., Summary, Experience, Education, Skills, etc.

Avoid Using Company Names without their legal structure suffix. Eastman Kodak could be interpreted as a person's name. Eastman Kodak Company is the legal name. Kodak is a trademark, not a company name.

Two additional tips:

Don't Use PDF files for Electronic Application, e.g., on company websites or job boards.

Be Compatible with Scanners and OCR, occasionally used in conjunction with ATS.

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And visit my website at

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What annoys you the most about your experiences applying for a job and why?

I hear many justifiable complaints about hiring processes from job seekers I talk to, things like getting no response, being rejected without explanation, questions asked on online applications,  focus on salary before discussing the job, poorly written job descriptions, Applicant Tracking Systems, and numerous other things. 

I don't hear HR departments or other company managers asking candidates about how they can improve, so I will.

If you could make it better, what specific things would you do to make hiring processes more reasonable for job applicants?

If you are interested in getting help with your search, visit my website.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Things you can do to get responses to job applications

Have you ever applied to a job that you knew you were "a perfect fit for" and never even got a response?

Sometimes it's not your fault. But there are things you can do to minimize non-response and things you can do to avoid encountering it altogether.
Some Causes:
  • The ATS gave you a low score. Your resume may be lacking the right key words. Your  name and contact info may be inaccessible to ATS. You may not meet the requirements ATS is looking for.
  • ATS is not programmed to send responses.
  • The job was filled by the time you applied.
  • The job has been put on hold.
  • The company is not interested in you. 
  • Some companies just don't behave responsibly or they lack the resources to respond.
  • Occasionally the job was cancelled and the posting wasn't updated promptly.
  • Sometimes the company recruiter does not follow through.
  • Often there is simply no excuse.

You can deal with the problem by doing these things:
  • Make sure your resume has key words used in the job description, used in context.
  • Make sure your resume is compatible with ATS - Get help if you don't know how.
  • Make sure you don't let job postings get "stale". Usually there is a "posted on" date. Get into the queue as quickly as is reasonably possible (be careful, sometimes haste makes waste).
  • Avoid ATS by finding out who the hiring manager is and making direct voice contact with that person instead of immediately applying. Send your resume to the hiring manager after your conversation.
  • Find hiring managers by searching on LinkedIn, Google and other media. Or make contact with people who work for the company and get referred by them.
  • Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete, up to date, and has all the search words companies will be looking for so that you get "found".

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And visit my website at

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why all the fuss about resume length?

The three bears nursery rhyme comes to mind. There are probably as many opinions about how long a resume should be as there are people who write them. So what's the big deal?

The big deal is that resumes are a job searchers primary written document for enticing hiring managers to interview them.

Therefore it is logical to do two things:
  • Understand what makes a good advertisement.
  • Understand what the hiring manager's needs and wants are and be respond to them. Showing how one can satisfy the hiring manager's needs and wants is the critical factor in getting interviews.

Content is king! So is intelligent writing, knowledge of contemporary resume writing practices, spelling, grammar, resume appearance and readability.

But when it comes to length, the question always is, what is too much, too little or just right. 

The answer to the right length question is "That shortest length that contains the content that generates interviews." 

Don't get too hung up with length. But also don't write a biography. It won't get read.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

5 keys to winning a new job? Be different.

Horses don't win by being like all the other horses.

Differentiation is the key to marketing. When it comes to job searching, be different from your competition?

Differentiate your resume;
  • Talk about the results of your work, not just your responsibilities.
  • Tell the hiring manager how you can help, not what you want. 
  • Make it easy to read. Use bullets, not paragraphs.
  • Cite key words about the job, used in context.
  • Objectives are out! The job you are applying to is your objective.
  • Avoid the 40+ ATS parsing killers.
  • Don't write a biography of your experience. It will not be read. 
  • Watch your spelling and grammar.
  • Appearances count. Make it look professional.

Differentiate your search tactics.
  • Don't rely on others to do for you what you should do yourself.
  • Talk directly to the hiring manager before you apply. It is the most effective.
  • Applying on job boards is the least effective.
  • Get referred by an employee.
  • Network effectively. It's not just about me, me, me.
  • Find out how recruiters work and are motivated. Don't depend solely upon them.
  • Create a complete LinkedIn Profile. It's a free inbound marketing tool. There is no search key word for 'lack of detail'. Include a smiling head shot picture of you. No picture = no interest.

Differentiate your search skills:
  • Learn how to identify hiring managers, how to get past their gatekeepers, and how to Introduce yourself to them.
  • Learn interviewing technique. Don't monopolize conversations.
  • Master salary negotiation.
  • Learn closing skills.

Differentiate your cover letter
  • Write one, even if it never gets read.
  • Direct it to the hiring manager by name, never "To whom it may concern."
  • Don't ask for an interview, say why it is important for the manager.
  • Establish rapport. Align yourself with the company and manager.

Differentiate how you job search:
  • Procrastination is a killer. Don't let jobs go stale.
  • Avoid being part of the herd.
  • Practice your weaknesses; role play.

Send your resume to for a FREE estimate Today! Then let's talk, no obligations! 
And visit my website at

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

6 things that make a great cover letter

The debate on whether to write a cover letter will continue endlessly. If you decide to write one, the following guidelines are for you.

Make sure the cover letter has been edited for the specific position you are applying for, just as the resume should be edited. These two documents should be tied closely to each other, without being repetitive.

A cover letter is a business letter. A good idea is to copy the header from your resume as a header for your cover letter. This ties the two documents together in a professional manner.

Make sure your cover letter does not have those overused, mundane clichés most of your competition will use. You want the reader to feel you are different from your competition.

These are the guidelines:

1 - It should be directed to the hiring manager by name and title.

People like to be addressed by name. “To whom it may concern”, "Dear Sir/Madam", etc., are very impersonal and not as well received as a personally addressed cover letter. Make a concerted effort to get the hiring manager's name and make voice contact with him or her  before you submit your documents to apply for the job. If you ask the right questions the hiring manager will tell you what his/her biggest challenge for the job is and you  can respond appropriately.

2 - Reference  the specific position you are applying for in a way that grabs attention and logically commands a response reaction

3 - Define your brand and project compliance with the requirements of the job. 

4 - Clearly show your knowledge of the hiring company and align yourself with them.

5 - Strongly suggest an interview and set expectations that a follow-up call will be made. It is better to tell them to interview you than to beg for an interview.

6 - Thank the hiring manager for his or her attention.  Thanking should be second nature to you. Make sure you don’t forget it in your cover letter.

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

3 reasons your request to connect might be ignored.

LinkedIn is a great place for job seekers to network. It's a valuable resource for those who are seeking a new job and want to find out about a company, a hiring manager or want to get an introduction to a hiring manager. It's easy to find information or get help by requesting to connect with people you know or would like to know.

But it's also easy for your request to become a complete turn-off.

When you want to connect with someone you don't know you are most likely to be rejected if:

·         You haven't said why you want to connect. Be specific. What is the purpose of your request? Do you want the recipient's help? Why do you believe the recipient might be able to help you? Have you read the recipient's profile? Do you know what they do? Have you checked out their interests so you can establish rapport? Can you find anything you may have in common with them?

·         You sent the default LinkedIn request. "I would like to join your network" is a pretty darn uninspiring message. How important to you is establishing a connection with the person? Is it too much to try to appeal to the recipient? Is your message unappealing?

·         Your own profile isn't complete. Most people will check out your profile before they decide to accept your request. Is yours complete? Is it appealing?

LinkedIn's main purpose is to help people network professionally. It is not a "popularity" site where you can brag about how many friends you have or discuss how much fun you had at somebody's party last night. Leave all that to FaceBook.

If you are serious about wanting information about a company, job, or hiring manager, consider being professional about how you request a connection.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What happened to adverbs? Where did they go? How quick did they get there?

I'll be the first to agree English is not an easy language to learn. Many Americans butcher English constantly.

Many people probably see nothing wrong with the title of this post. If you are one of them and you are looking for a job, pay attention. An adverb tells us when, where, how, in what manner, or to what extent an action is performed. An adverb is typically used to modify a verb, but an adverb can also modify an adjective or another adverb. Adverbs often end in "ly".

Failure to be grammatically correct in resumes paints a picture of ignorance of the English language. Why would a job candidate want to diminish the reader's perception of him or her? Some may believe it's unimportant, a rather naive stance to take in my opinion. Good grammar is equally as important as good spelling. If you need help writing your resume, make sure whoever prepares it writes correctly.

"How quickly did they get there?" is the grammatically correct question in this post title.

You can learn more about adverbs here. 

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Clues to better networking for a job

When you don't already know the hiring manager, the most effective way to get hired is to be referred directly to the hiring manager by a current employee.

If you know the employee, networking with them is simplified. They are either a close friend, a friend of a friend, or an acquaintance you don't know a lot about.

If you don't know them, networking becomes a bit more complex. Approaching them takes some tact.

There are several elements to successful networking.
  • The networking venue: Is it a 'by-chance' meeting, a formal meeting, a casual activity, an email, a phone connection, or other?
  • Understand your own personality: Do you tend to be outgoing or are you more introverted?
  • Understand how your interpersonal actions affect other types of people: Are you an engaging person, more direct in your approach, or uncomfortable starting conversation?
  • Establish rapport, seek common ground: Draw the other person out and find out about them?
  • Establish being likable: Establish trust, offer help before seeking it?

In general don’t ask people for a job. This puts them on the spot and may cause them to become defensive. Establish rapport by finding something you have in common with the person you are communicating with. Check their LinkedIn profile and social media, or Google them for topics they are interested in to ask them about.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Why did you leave your job?

As we all know, this can be a loaded interview question depending upon what the real situation was. "For a better opportunity" is a good answer, but be prepared for the follow-on question, "But why did you leave before you had a new job?"

There are many different situations that cause people to leave.
  • Could not tolerate what was happening (boss, company, coworkers, some form of abuse, etc.)
  • Company closed, moved, or was being prepared for sale.
  • Lay off - you were singled out vs. mass layoff, restructuring, etc.
  • Your job changed and the new situation was untenable.
  • Fired - for cause, not for cause.
  • Spouse took a new job in another city.
  • All kinds of personal situations; care-giving, affordability, recruited and new job and it fell through, etc.

Regardless of the situation, like a good Boy Scout, Be Prepared! There are hundreds of ways to answer depending upon the situation.
  • Make sure you have a plausible answer.
  • Honesty is the best policy because you won't get caught up trying to remember a lie. Stretching the truth may work if you don't twist too hard.
  • Avoid detail. The more you say the deeper the probe is likely to get. If you are a talker, learn to shut up!
  • Prepare your answer and practice it out loud. Video record it on your cell phone if possible. Make your mistakes in private and learn from what you see and hear.

 Like all good interview advice. Don't "wing it".

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Friday, May 27, 2016

What did you say you do?

When you hear the brand name Ford, Kraft, Coke, Aspirin, or Pampers, etc., your mind automatically creates an image of the company's product because you are familiar with the name. That is one-word branding. When you see MD, CPA, DDS, etc., after a person's name you immediately understand what the person does. But when you see the name of a person you don't know, with no clue about him or her, you have no idea what they do, unless they are a celebrity.

When it comes to writing a personal brand for a resume it can be difficult to convey the message in a way that is, crisp, clear, and understandable without creating a mini-biography. Yet in resumes it's important to quickly enable the reader to understand what you do and to create interest in reading the rest of the resume message.

Because you are probably not well known, it's important to concisely say what you do and add a summary value added statement to piqué the reader's interest. The value statement provides the marketing 'hook' that excites the reader's interest.

"And there's more", he said. The reader also wants to know what you are good at doing. This can be accomplished in a tabulated list of your core competencies. The list should contain the most important skills (key words) required by the position being applied for at a bare minimum. This is necessary for ATS scoring.

Once you have captured the reader's interest in 5 seconds or less you can focus on the accomplishments and results of your work. These details are the primary values you bring to the hiring manager and are the reasons you will be called for an interview. The better able you are at providing quantified business value you bring, the stronger the motivation to interview you.

It all starts with your personal brand statement.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why you need 2 resumes today

Actually it's really wise to have 3.

The reason you need more than one file is because your resume is likely to be scrutinized by a computer before a human ever sees it. And that computer uses ATS parsing software to 'read' your resume. ATS parsing software prefers plain text files because it is only looking for text. Graphics, formatting, and other things that humans like to see can confuse it.  Since plain text files are stripped of formatting and graphics, a plain text (*.txt) file is the preferred file for ATS parsing. Therefore always create a plain text (*.txt) file for applying online.

Fortunately for us humans, ATS parsing software can also read most *.doc files produced by Word as long as they don't include graphics and document generate attributes that confuse parsing. So a Word doc file is the second file we should have. Although the software can read doc files, parsing software has less difficulty reading *.txt files.

The third file you probably want to have is the fancy one that is attractive to the eye. The things that make it shine will almost always cause ATS issues and will result in either outright rejection or at least non-response. I call these files "For Handout Only". You can use them to physically hand to people in interviews or when networking, but the risk is all yours if you try to apply for a job with them.

Send your resume to for a FREE estimate Today! Then let's talk, no obligations! 

And visit my website at

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Could you lose your job tomorrow?

It’s logical to ask “Since I am currently employed why should I bring my resume up to today's standards?" The answer is "for the same reasons you buy insurance". It's for recovery from the potential things that upset your life.

Most people wait until they lose their jobs before updating their resume. Often they find themselves in a panic mode, worried about finances, about their family or loved ones well-being, and they may already be financially stressed. They fail to realize that changes have occurred since they last wrote their resume. It's no longer written in contemporary form.

Competition is more difficult today as well. Although the economy is getting better it’s hard to deny that it is still not strong. There are a lot fewer jobs today than there were when the economy was very healthy. Employers continue to be reluctant to create many new openings and making new financial commitments. 

There are still more people searching for fewer available jobs! Companies are overwhelmed with applicants. They use ATS extensively to handle the load. ATS parsing software often rejects candidates because of resume attributes having nothing to do with a person's qualifications. It's not a trivial task to prevent that from happening. Beyond key words there are over 40 different word processing software features that can cause ATS issues! And there are additional parsing error causes beyond the 40 features.

Because job searching today is more complex than in the past it is logical to get "insurance". Get your resume ready for hiring practices used today. Either get help while you are employed and can afford it, or figure out how to do it yourself. Whichever you choose, get it done! 

If you find yourself unemployed without a contemporary resume you are very likely headed for an extended search until you get it right. 

Send your resume to for a FREE estimate Today! Then let's talk, no obligations! And visit my website at

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Got a gap in your employment history?

You're not alone. Many people do. The question is how to deal with them. What do you say on your resume? What do you say in interviews?

The answer is fairly simple for short gaps like 3 to 4 months or so. In those cases you can simply say nothing on your resume because gaps of that length are commonplace. If asked you can simply answer "Job searching".

However, long gaps are a red flag. The reader of a resume is wondering what was going on during that period. That's not a good mindset to establish. It is far better to make a one-line statement that answers the question. An answer before the reader dwells on it gives you a chance to refocus the reader's attention to the rest of your resume. And at interviews you have already answered the question so there is no need to dwell on it.

Keep the one-liner brief and honest. For example, if you were care-taking, say so. If you were raising a family, say so. (Interesting information regarding women who want to re-enter the workforce can be found at If you were pursuing education or a certification, say so. If you were recovering from an illness or accident, say so carefully, including why you are able to work now. If you were incarcerated you have no choice but to be say so.

Admittedly, sometimes an answer will not help. Some readers are close-minded to reasons for gaps. They just don't believe them. You are not able to change their minds if you cannot talk with them, but in an interview situation if you run into an interviewer who is negative about your gap, at least you have a chance to impact his or her mindset.

In extremely long gaps there may be no recovery. These are unfortunate situations that require rethinking what kind of employment, often large steps down, are possible. Since these are the most difficult cases, professional career counseling may be the only solution. 

Get more info at Get a FREE resume assessment today! Send your resume to Then let's talk, no obligations!