When recruiters read resumes, they often wonder about career gaps they may suddenly notice. These career gaps often raise questions that HR people would like to be addressed even before they call applicants for an interview.
Here are some examples of what might raise red flags in the screening process and how they can be addressed:
1. An employment gap. Did family events (like childbirth or loss of a family member) take place? Or maybe you just took a break from being employed to enjoy a much deserved vacation after being on the workforce for more than 10 years? In any case, you will have to explain the time you were not employed in your cover letter in as reasonable a manner as possible.
2. Going down the corporate ladder. If your last position was VP for sales and marketing, then why are you applying for an assistant's job? Are you trying to get into a new field and are hoping to learn something from the training?
3. Cross-country movement. If your last place of employment was in Colorado and are now going for a job in Boston, recruiters will wonder if you're trying to run away from something. You have to explicitly state in your letter that you are joining your fiancé or moving to a warmer climate for health reasons.
4. You're in, you're out. You work for a big corporation then go on consultancy, then go back into the corporate world and then go into consulting again. You need to explain specifically what it is you are looking for in a job. If the challenge of a project lures you out of regular employment, tell it so.
5. Getting laid off. You have to explain in your resume that you were forced to leave your last job because of downsizing.
Always attempt to reduce the uncertainty in a recruiter's mind by addressing any issue that may come up from reading your resume. Explain it either in your cover letter or in the resume, but don't wait until you get called for an interview.