Usually when we’re talking about gaps on resumes, we’re talking about gaps in time. But today, I want to talk about a different kind of gap – an experience gap. Do you have them on your resume? Read on and find out.
First, what’s an experience gap? The best way to illustrate a gap in experience is by giving you an example. Consider for a moment our imaginary example, Leslie. Leslie is a marketing professional. She’s worked for a decade in three different positions within organizations both small and large working on everything from copy for brochures to dabbling in graphic design to executive communications and speech writing. She is skilled in crafting marketing language, and a true expert at sales copy. Her resume reads like someone who is incredibly skilled in the world of traditional marketing and would be perfect for a position in any corporation’s mid-level marketing management. What is Leslie missing, though? You might not be able to tell from the description above, but she’s missing an online marketing component. Leslie has never handled email newsletters, web copy, or social media. It’s a gap that may make her difficult to hire if a company is looking for a more generalized applicant in marketing.
So how do you fill the gaps on your resume? You may know that you have great experience, but you’re missing key skills in a certain area in your field. For Leslie, it could be social media or web writing and copy editing. How can she gain that experience to make her more attractive to a potential company?
- Volunteer! Nonprofit organizations are always looking for individuals to fill in the gaps where their staff may not be able to perform due to time constraints or experience. If you’re looking for experience in program management or project development, online web writing or web updating, and much much more, there are nonprofits around the country willing to help you gain that experience and give you the opportunity to test and fail if needed. Check out VolunteerMatch.org or learn more about the Taproot Foundation, an incredible organization that helps professionals give pro bono time to nonprofit organizations.
- Ask for a new project at work. This can be tricky. If you approach your boss and say, “I realize I don’t know much about social media and I want to learn,” it can sometimes look like you’re trying to boost your resume. Try this on for size, though. “I want to excel in my job and see new ways to grow within the company, and expanding my skill set may be a great opportunity to bring new skills to our department and increase my ability to affect the bottom line. I’d like to get more engrained in projects that contain….” This positions your interest as a plus for the company, not just for you!
- Consider some freelance work. Recently, a good friend of mine took a freelance position with an advertising agency in a different state, working remotely, though she would rather have a full time position locally. Unfortunately, while her resume is incredibly impressive, she lacked the agency experience to land a job in a big local agency. This freelance work, though, could give her the experience she needs to go back into applying for agency jobs and landing them. It could be as simple as a few projects to get you to the next level in your work.
- Ask the experts. In every field, there are strong expert voices. Go to them, and express your interest in what they do. It may be they’re willing to bring you on pro bono as an apprentice or develop a mentoring relationship. Ask for advice, Career Girls, it’s the best thing you can do for your career.
Don’t just think of gaps in time, but think of gaps in experience when you can as well. Filling them in strategically will mean you’re better positioned to get a better job with a higher salary doing exactly what you want!