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gap years on resume/cover letter

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by St. Even, Nov 27, 2010.

  1. St. Even

    St. Even Bit Poster

    Hello all,

    The past couple of years have been quite a ride for me. Although I had to go abroad to get my foot into the world of IT I managed to work my way up very quickly. Now however I feel that I am ready for a new challenge. But when you want to move onto a new (and hopefully better job) you first have to complete the daunting (at least it is for me) task of writing an new and up to date resume.

    Why do you not just take your old one and just update it with the things you have been doing for the past years, you might ask? Well, in all honesty, the resume I used to get my first job was not the best. I mainly got my first job because of language skills (not English), so my resume did not matter all that much. I just needed to speak another European language natively...

    Because I want to move onto other and better things I realize that it is of the utter most importance that I mold my resume into the best shape I possibly can. I have started that process already, but I am running into some problems now. I hope that some of you can take some time and help me with this...

    As I already mentioned, the past couple of years have been very positive (career wise). I managed to get multiple promotions and a lot of additional responsibilities (working for the same company). On top of that I managed to study for and pass quite a few certification exams (all related to the job I was doing at the time). So from an experience/certification/knowledge point-of-view I am fairly confident that I can produce quite a strong resume.

    The problem now is the following... When I started working in IT a couple years ago (just over 2 years now) it was in fact the first "real" job I got. That is of course not an issue when you are in your early twenties, I however, was already in my late (very late) twenties. And my latest real studies (not for certifications) date back to 2003. So what I end up with is a gap of about 4-5 years. What have I been doing that time you probably ask? Well, just call it "gap years" (travelling/working abroad, seeing the world,...). Of course I did the odd IT related job (make a small (and simple) website for a friend, manage a Linux VPS running some small websites, fix computers,...), but not a real professional IT job.

    Everybody keeps telling me that all that travelling is actually a good selling point during interviews (and I do agree with that). I just do not really find a good way to get it incorporated into my resume. What I have currently done is to focus on the past 3 years and I did not really mention what happened before. Would that be the way to do it? If they the recruiters have any questions what I did before they can always ask it during the interview (and I would be able to provide them with a very good explanation), or am I wrong to assume this? I have been thinking of mentioning it in my cover letter?

    Anyway, this post is getting rather long and I obviously do not wont to bore you all to death ;-). But please, if you read it all the way to here, let me know your thoughts!

    St. Even

    PS: I do not really need help with the resume itself (that is also why I did not post it), I just want some help/advice on how to deal with those gap years
  2. westernkings

    westernkings Gigabyte Poster

    Want me to be really honest? take don't gap years, that would of been the biggest benefit you would have seen. Travelling the world hasn't done you any benefit at all and before any one pipes up with "but young and free blah blah" - aside from Thailand where most of my Uni Student friends go, I've travelled more than any of them without it effecting my CV. Delaying something is never productive :D

    as for it being good for the CV? I doubt it, you're in your late twenties with half of your working life so far missing.

    I'd say you are going to just have to leave it off and put it as travelling. Anything that can't be proven to your potential employer might as well be a lie in all honesty. Stick at it, as far as you should be concerned, your career started three years ago and anything before was "education". Just a slight delay really isn't it.
  3. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster


    If something doesn't exist, don't put it on your CV.
    You start your employment history when you start your first job and go from there.

    If you learned something valuable or gained any skills in your 'gap years' then by all means list them under skills or certifications etc. But otherwise don't mention it, save it for a talking point at an interview if it comes up.
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  4. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    As an employer, why would your travels make me more likely to hire you? Travelling doesn't make you a good tech, which is what an employer wants. The reason why it is difficult to get those travel years incorporated into your resume is because your travels have nothing to do with the job you are interviewing for.

    All that said... why should it matter what you did before you were in IT? Your IT career started just over 2 years ago... does it matter what you did before that? I might understand your concern if you were in IT for a long while, took several years off, and then got BACK into IT, expecting employers to consider ALL of your experience... but you don't. It doesn't really matter if you were a gardener, a cook, a lawyer, or a traveler for those years, does it?

    So... your idea to focus on the past 3 years is just fine, in my opinion. And, as you say, if the employers and recruiters want to know more, they can ask you.

    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!

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