How to Explain Anomalies on Your Resume

How to Explain Anomalies on Your Resume

Having anomalies or inconsistencies on your resume may present some challenges when job searching. Don’t let that stop you from applying to opportunities that you think would be a good fit. There are ways to explain why these occurred so the hiring manager has an understanding of your background and current situation. Our team of hiring experts identified key tips to successfully address the below situations to a potential employer.

Gap in Employment

There are a number of different reasons why you may have a gap in between employment opportunities on your resume. Whatever the case, we recommend addressing this early on in the hiring process rather than leaving it up to the hiring manager’s imagination. If applicable, consider adding a short explanation in your cover letter or in a message to the job poster.

If you move onto a phone screen or interview, we recommend being proactive and bringing the gap up when you have the opportunity to speak about your previous experience. Utilize this time to describe the situation and provide the hiring team with examples of what you gained from the time away. If you did anything to contribute to your professional development during this period, now would be a good time to provide those examples. Lastly, be honest and optimistic about the gaps on your resume. Reaffirm the areas where you think you could be a great fit for the opportunity and move on with the conversation.

Short Stints

If you’ve had some short job stints on your resume, you may be concerned that a potential employer could question your commitment. However, there are some ways that you can address these areas and shift the conversation back to why you would be a good fit for the role. For example, if any of your stints are related to contract positions, you should note this on your resume or in a cover letter. Contract opportunities are often a positive example of a short stint, so you don’t want to miss out on giving the hiring manager that information.

If your short stint is not related to a contract position, you will want to err on the side of caution and address the situation right away in an interview. Be sure to mention if the opportunity ended due to layoffs or a company shutdown. If possible, gather references from the company who can attest to the situation and your work ability. In this case, it is a good idea to be honest about the short stints and shift the interview focus back to the opportunities where you displayed commitment and dedication to an organization rather than dwelling on this hiccup.

Incomplete Degree

If you have an unfinished degree, you may be wondering if you should list it on your resume or bring it up in an interview. While it varies depending on the situation, we generally recommend including the incomplete education on your resume for a number of different reasons. For example, if the education is related to the kind of jobs you are applying for, it can show your knowledge and familiarity in the area and make up for a lack in experience. Highlighting the years you were enrolled in the degree program can also help fill in any gaps between employment, especially if you were enrolled in classes full-time. Additionally, if you are planning to continue to take classes to finish the degree, you will want to note this on your resume as well. In this case, a cover letter is a great way to describe the situation to give a potential employer an understanding of why the degree is incomplete. If you get an interview, the advice listed above applies here; be honest and upfront about your incomplete degree so that you can move the conversation back to why you would be a good fit for the role.


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