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Asked by Nefer on October 10, 2016

Should I address personal struggles and hardship I've had to overcome in my teenage years and early university years that explain some spots in my resume to a potential employer? If so, what is the best way to bring it up in a way that shows my resilience and my determination not to remain the victim of my circumstances? Thank you for your time.

Answered by Sara, Hiring Expert at Grace, on October 11, 2016

This is a great question and often difficult to address. If there are gaps in your resume due to hardships think of a way to word the positive experience you obtained or what you learned. Ensure you are ready to address the situation for you will probably be asked. The best approach is to be honest, but you do not have to go into a high level of detail. An example would be – parents separated and you had to move to a new place:
My parents separated and I found myself in a new city. I learned that change was hard, but found myself making new friends which led to new opportunities. I was also forced in taking band classes and years later I play guitar.
There is always ways to get your point across without having to dive into too much detail. Talk about the detail that is relevant and that shows your tenacity and resilience. Hope this gives you a good idea on how to prepare to address those uncomfortable spots to potential employers.

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Answered by Sylvia, Hiring Expert at Hewlett-Packard, on October 11, 2016

I would suggest a cover letter. It allows you the opportunity to explain some of these elements quickly. You don;t want to overload the CL with too much detail, there is a delicate balance. Check out some sites to review how to create good CLs. Keep in mind, it does however, open up the door for more questions during interview time. Don't look at it as a hindering matter but rather how it shaped you and how it set the tone for your work ethic. It also gives you a unique perspective. 

Hope this helps!  

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on October 17, 2016

Yes, you can bring up hardships that you have overcome to explain spots on your resume. Discuss what you have learned from your experiences and how it has made you into the awesome person you are today. Let them know that because of these adversities, you are more dedicated, more determined, and more resilient which gives you the strength to handle challenges at work and produce results.

A good way to bring this up during the interview might be when the interviewer asks you questions like, “What qualities/experience you can bring to the job?” and “How did you handle stressful or challenging situations/projects at work?” You can then respond with a work related situation and also include your personal situation. Discuss what you learned from the experience and that it has made you more successful and a better employee.

Good luck!

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