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How to Explain Long Periods of Unemployment on Your Resume

Given the state of the economy over the past couple of years, you'd think employers would be more understanding about gaps in a potential hire's CV. But even a prolonged recession can't change human nature, and no matter how unfair it is, hiring managers tend to pursue employed candidates more ardently than folks with long stints of unemployment.

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(Photo Credit: Slightly Everything/Flickr)

"In effect, when companies are looking to hire people, they scan through the résumés they get in the mail and their first step is to throw out all the résumés of people who've been unemployed for a long time," writes Matthew Iglesias at Slate. "This is research based on pretty well-designed experiments that control for other variables beyond long-term unemployment. You should feel free to see that as a vile form of discrimination, or as a sensible business heuristic according to your temperament."

Of course, the long-term unemployed don't care whether it's reasonable to discriminate against them or not. In an environment in which extended unemployment seems unlikely to be forthcoming any time soon, they're more worried about finding jobs.

Here are a few things to try:

1. Volunteer.

It matters to you whether you get paid or not, but it doesn't matter to your future employer, necessarily. Volunteering in your industry can keep your skills sharp while keeping your resume up-to-date and gap-free.

2. Freelance.

Freelancing fulfills the same function as volunteering, in many respects -- plus, it pays. Just remember to report each day you worked while filing for unemployment, and pay attention to tax requirements for freelancers.

3. Rearrange your resume.

Create a functional resume, or list your jobs by year instead of month and year, to avoid ever having to explain gaps in your employment history in the first place.

Tell Us What You Think

How have you dealt with gaps on your resume? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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