You would not believe how often I get asked if it’s possible to get an online job if there are gaps in your resume.
If you’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the past 4 years or you took a gap year to travel the world and now you’re ready to get back to work – you’re in the right place!
It is absolutely possible, and incredibly common, to land remote jobs even with years of gaps in your work history!
The bottom line is, if you have the skills, companies want to hire you.
But, there are ways to strategically build your resume to focus on your abilities rather than how consistently you’ve worked.
Here are 5 tips on how to bridge the gaps in your resume and make them work in your favor! You’ll be booked out with clients before you know it.
1. Make Sure You’re Qualified
First thing’s first, these tips will only help if you actually qualify for the jobs you’re applying for.
If you’re going after project management jobs and you only have experience in data entry, you won’t have much luck.
But here’s the good news: You don’t need a degree or be an expert writer to succeed at working remotely.
When I started, I was a military spouse with a young child struggling to pay rent. I had to put things back at the grocery store because I didn’t know food stamps wouldn’t buy toilet paper.
Today, I run a million-dollar business and can pay someone to help around the house. I get to spend more time with my son and husband snuggling our Great Dane puppies on the couch.
If you’re at the beginning of this online work journey, that’s okay! You’re in the right place to get the skills you need to get started!
You can also check out my free workshop to learn more about what a VA does and whether or not it’s the right fit for you.
2. Have Portfolio Samples to Submit with Your Resume
The proof is in the pudding! If you’re qualified for the job, then you need the work to show it.
Compile a portfolio of any previous work you’ve done that aligns with the job you’re applying for and hand it over with your resume.
In some cases, samples of your work are more important than your resume.
A well-rounded portfolio is proof that you have what they’re looking for, it showcases your abilities, and gives the employer (or client) a better idea of what type of work you can do.
Keep your portfolio samples relevant. For example, if you’re applying for graphic design jobs, then your old self-portraits from ninth-grade art class won’t cut it.
If a job description asks for work samples that you already have, make sure you put those at the beginning of your portfolio. We don’t want the reviewer to look right over your work. Have any relevant work samples right at the front so there’s no chance they can miss it.
You’ve got the skills! So you’ve got to get that bangin’ portfolio ready to go.
If you haven’t seen your resume in awhile, now’s the time to dig it out of your old hard drive, polish it up, and make it shiny and new for your potential clients!
3. Cater Your Resume Specifically to Each Job You Apply For
You should be tweaking your resume for every single job that you apply for.
You don’t need to rewrite the entire thing, but go over it and make sure you’re using the right language and ordering any previous work experience in a way that is relevant for each job you apply for.
Some companies use resume scanning programs, called ATS (applicant tracking systems), to search resumes for keywords and phrases.
A great tip for this is to use some of the exact verbiage you find in the job description and change the language in your resume to match.
For example – If the job description mentions applicants needing experience with Canva and Asana, make sure ‘Canva’ and ‘Asana’ can be found in your application somewhere.
It’s also SUPER helpful to have more than one type of base resume to work with, especially if you’re regularly applying for jobs in different niches. This will save you A TON of time.
I had a project management resume and a virtual assistant resume when I first started working online.
If I wanted to apply for a job in either niche, I could pick the appropriate resume to apply with. I made sure each one had relevant experience to the job and I never had to waste time switching up ONE resume because I now had TWO.
4. Organize Your Resume in Order of Relevance
It’s time to finally forget what your high school guidance counselor told you about listing every single job you’ve held in chronological order on your resume.
While we’re at it, go ahead and lose the old summer job experience tearing movie tickets in favor of something a little more relevant to the position you’re applying for right now.
Employers don’t care that you’ve held a job consistently for the last decade. They care about what you can do for them.
If someone is thumbing through your resume for a remote position in 2021 and the first thing they see is your first job at Burger King wayyy back in high school, then I can assure you they won’t keep reading.
As a business owner, I don’t have time to wade through your 15 years of unrelated job experience when I’m looking to hire somebody new.
If you have a lot of experience as a virtual assistant performing lots of different tasks, you need to put the ones that are relevant to each client at the top of the list.
Don’t go crazy and start deleting anything that isn’t asked for on a job description. Instead, make sure that the skills they are looking for are right at the top, clear as day.
Some clients may be looking for someone who specializes in a specific niche, but they also want a well-rounded person who can expand into other areas. So, other adjacent skills are still important to include.
5. Transform Your Employment Gaps into Attractive Abilities
The final and most important tip I have for you is to figure out a way to make your employment gaps sound productive.
Try to avoid saying something like, “I took four years off to raise my precious angel baby” or “I traveled the world with my independently wealthy husband.”
This is where you’re going to have to get a little creative and think about what you did during your gap in a different light.
What else did you do during the time you stayed home with the kids or traveled the world?
- Did you run your preschool’s PTA program?
- Did you volunteer to take photos for the local animal shelter’s website?
- Did you start up a Facebook page for Aunt Bev’s homemade candle business?
These are all relevant experiences you can include on a remote resume IF it aligns with the job you’re applying for.
Focus less on the outcome of what you were doing and more on the specific tasks or abilities you used to complete those projects.
All it takes is a little tweaking, and voila! What you thought was a huge, ugly gap in your work history was really just work experience in disguise.
PTA mom? Boom! Project management, scheduling, organizing meetings, compiling meeting notes, writing newsletters.
Shelter puppy photoshoots? Boom! Studio photography, digital marketing, volunteer work, community outreach.
Aunt Bev’s Facebook engineer? Boom! Social media management, content creation, copywriting, digital marketing.
See how easy that was?
What gaps? I don’t see any gaps! Only times where you honed in on these essential skills (whatever they may be) that you can now offer to a client!
Stop worrying that companies will notice that you were out of a job for a few months (or years). What they’re really interested in is – what you can bring to the table now that you’re available?
Don’t let focusing on the gaps in your resume keep you from trying to work online either. There are millions of jobs out there, and they’re waiting for people like YOU to apply.
Quit making excuses about your resume and start to make your resume work for you! You got this.
If you’re ready to land the remote job of your dream, I’ve got just the thing for you!
My Remote Resume Blueprint has EVERYTHING you need to help you stand out from the competition and show off your expertise properly. So, if you’re ready to level up your remote resume, get instant access now!
In 90 Day VA, Esther teaches her students how to research and repurpose current content into blogs for the VAI website. Maggie is the student we’ve chosen this week to feature what she’s learned in the course. Get to know her:
Maggie is a virtual assistant here to help lighten your social media load.
When she’s not helping clients with content creation and blog writing, you can find her drinking coffee and reading a book on her back porch.
She’s a member of 90 Day VA and helps with everything from creating social media graphics to administrative assistance.
To inquire about the services she offers and how she can help you, send her an email to set up a free consultation at [email protected].