Though gaps between periods of employment on a resume are far from uncommon, for many hiring managers, they are perceived as a red flag. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can minimize the damage resume gaps do to your desirability as an employee, including significant gaps of a year or more. Have a strategy prepared for explaining gaps of more than a few months, and be ready to offer it in an interview.
When explaining resume gaps, it's often best to do so right on your resume. You don't need to take up a lot of space or go into a lot of detail; just insert one or two sentences at the appropriate time in your work history to explain why you weren't actively employed. It could be that you had family commitments that you needed to attend to, that you were taking time to transition between jobs, or that you were taking a much-needed vacation after your last job or contract ended. This generally isn't unnecessary for gaps of two months or less, but if you weren't working for any period longer than that, it's often best to include an explanation.
If possible, try to mention any relevant experience gained during the resume gap period or what you did to keep your skills fresh. Volunteer work is great way to fill in the gaps on a resume, as is an internship or additional training you took on during the gap period. At first glance, these might not seem worthy of being included on your resume among your paid positions, but they indicate to the employer that you maintained a healthy interest in your chosen field and didn't let your abilities lapse.
Most importantly, remain positive, professional and honest when explaining resume gaps. You don't have to go into specifics if, for example, you left a job abruptly because you didn't get along with your manager, but you should do your best to downplay the negative aspects of the experience. Likewise, if you had to take a sabbatical from work for a family emergency, keep your explanation of what happened brief and professional. Finally, be honest about resume gaps. Don't fudge the dates you left or began previous jobs to make gaps look smaller, and don't make up reasons for periods of unemployment. There's a good chance that you'll get caught sooner or later when the hiring manager checks your references.
If left unexplained, resume gaps can easily become the elephant in the room, denying you work opportunities that you might otherwise have gotten. Explaining gaps to a potential employer may feel a little awkward or unnecessary, but it is something you should get used to. A succinct, matter-of-fact explanation can go a long way towards minimizing the damage done by resume gaps.
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