smart spending

Resume-writing after a long work absence

"If you've been out there increasing your skills and knowledge of the market, treat those just like paying gigs," says Rothenberg. Don't pretend they were paid jobs -- but do emphasize the skills because they can be powerful arguments for hiring you, he says.

List work outside your field

Let's say you were laid off from your job as a marketing manager and had to take a job as a waiter to make ends meet. While it doesn't boost your work experience in the marketing realm, Alfred J. Mariani, founder of Resumes Etc., a resume-writing and consulting-services company with offices in Connecticut and White Plains, N.Y., says it could actually get you hired in your field.

Companies will have more respect for the former executive that took a job outside his or her career than the executive that stayed out of work and collected unemployment. "It shows you made an attempt to get out there and find employment," Mariani says.

While volunteering, consulting and networking can help to fill a work gap on your resume, Rothenberg says not to list each one separately on your resume. You're better off grouping them together under one entry to avoid looking like you've been hopping around from job to job.

He says a way to address drawn-out unemployment is to create a hybrid resume that lists all your skills at the top but then lists your work experience in reversed chronological offer. With this structure, you would be able to demonstrate your value before getting into the gap or gaps in your work history, he says.

"A hybrid brings functions to the top and shows what you bring to the table," Rothenberg says. "You're able to hook them and they understand the value."

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