Explaining Gaps In Resume

Nancy Anderson
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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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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Char she could explain it by saying that she had a health issue through no fault of her own but the issue is resolved and she is ready and eager to get back into the job field. Don't try to hide the reason but don't embellish on it, either. The hiring manager just wants to know if she can now do the job.

  • Char Carpenter
    Char Carpenter

    It would be nice if someone put out an article on how to explain resume gaps if you had an accident or an illness that required your absence from the job market for a year or two. I know someone who had a faulty medical device and got metal poisoning from it. It took a long time before anyone realized what it was that was causing her to be so ill. In the meantime, she couldn't even work, and once realized, she then had a year spent in revisions and recovery time. She is now hale and hearty, but with all the health insurance hubbub, how does she explain something like this without it seeming to be a negative, or the company thinking she will always be out sick if they hire her?

  • Yvette Chavez
    Yvette Chavez

    I was last employed in2001. I appreciate the explaining gaps messages. I always was ready to be honest. But to know short and sweet with my readiness going forward will satisfy if questioned. Which of course I will be. Thank you for all advice you have given me. I was ready to ask but found you with all answers.

  • Pamela F.
    Pamela F.

    Thanks for sharing

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Ravindra, you could probably search the Internet for examples but just simply tell it like it is. Just a short sentence or two in your cover letter could explain it. For example let's say that you were taking care of loved ones and were unable to work - just indicate that you were a caregiver for aging parents, etc. Employers understand that this happens and that not everyone has worked without any gaps.

  • Ravindra K.
    Ravindra K.

    Thank you for sharing this perspective. Do you happen to have samples, especially those dealing with health related issues.

  • christine d.
    christine d.

    thanks appreciate it

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