Career Gaps Resume

How To Handle Career Gaps On Your Resume


Especially in this economy, career gaps on your resume are typical. Employers generally view a gap in employment negatively, however, it does not have to be this way. In these cases, it’s important to indicate why you took the time off.

There are a lot of legitimate reasons for employment gaps and assuming you did not spend your time eating Bon-Bons and watching Oprah, you should not be afraid to state what they were.

Whether you chose to become a stay-at-home parent, to pursue your education further, to deal with ailing parents (or your own illness), or were just unsuccessful in gaining new employment, you need to help an employer understand the reasons for resume career gaps.

Note it’s not enough to just mention your reasons on a cover letter as the resume must be able to survive as a stand-alone document.

How To Handle Career Gaps On Your Resume

There are generally four reasons to have a gap in your resume:

1. Raised A Family

This is an entirely legitimate reason to have a gap so do not try to hide it and please do not try to embellish it by using silly titles like Household or Domestic Engineer. Just say you invested in providing a stable environment for a family of X.Your challenge in returning to the workforce is to indicate that your skills are fresh, so list the volunteer jobs you did with the school and community to showcase your organizational and other skills that support your theme.

If you are from a technical field like IT or Engineering then you might need to showcase skills refresher courses or recent certifications you might have gained.

2. Unemployed

Especially in these times, gaps due to unemployment are common and the need to enter information here is entirely dependent on how long you were unemployed. If you haven’t worked in a year or more, having an unexplained gap on the resume connotes that people chose not to hire you which is certainly not the impression you want to make.

If you took some temporary jobs, just bunch them under the heading Temporary Positions and indicate you selected to take some temporary roles while searching for the next appropriate job challenge.

You can also include volunteer roles here too. If you did some part-time consulting, then indicate that and list some projects and successful results you achieved.

3. Family Matters

Sometimes you just have to take time off to deal with ailing relatives and financial matters. Or perhaps you were ill and don’t want to go into the details. Dealing with this is simple. Just list Sabbatical and state, “Dealt with urgent family matters now fully resolved.”

When it comes up in an interview, just say something like, “I always give 110% to my job and I knew I could not do that at this time, so I decided to take the time off. However, everything is resolved now and I am ready to hit the ground running.”

4. Furthering Education

No one can fault someone for furthering their knowledge and value, so just treat this like another job and put a notation that you were pursuing a XX degree/certification.

Using these simple tips and presenting a positive attitude about your readiness can dramatically improve your job search results.

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Don Goodman

Don Goodman, President of Best Resume Writing Service - About Jobs is a nationally recognized career expert. Get a free career assessment from Don here.


  1. hi

    I am an engineer and completed masters degrer in vehicle technology in the month of october 2012. But still i am unable to land a suitable job for me. In the mean time while searching for a job i was working in part time in a famous gastronomical chain. where I met people from various culturrd and countries. learned a lot about the production system..inventory management etc. How can i put this in a positive way in my engineering resume

  2. I have a three year resume gap due to a once in a life-time opportunity to be a captain on a 41ft sailboat. We sailed the boat from Cleveland Ohio to the Bahamas and back up the east coast. Once the trip was over, I returned to Cleveland and I had problems securing a job. How does one present this opportunity? It is definitely different.

  3. The challenge can sometimes be about getting the CV read in the first place. Gaps or lack of recent experience can really weigh against a candidate. It also depends on the calibre and style of the interviewer. Some are satisfied that all elements of the CV are accounted for, others will seek to drill down and others again may be judgmental or hostile – especially if they have little ability to empathise with the situations described.

    If at all possible do speak to the company beforehand to get a more general feel for them and an understanding of how they treat their employees in similar situations to the ones on your CV.

  4. Another alternative is to bunch them together under a consultancy name and if you’ve done that intermittently during your career,
    you have the option of citing the first year you did that or the most recent transition start year. You can also openly state that this consultancy only operates during transitions, as I do on my profile.

  5. Most of your article is sound except for point #1. Whether one has a family, or not, is protected information under Human Rights. If you indicate your raised a family you are doing yourself a disservice.

    Think of it this way – if you gave your kids to someone else to raise they would put it on their resume as “Childcare Provider”, so why can’t you do the same when it is your own kids? You can!

    Here’s how it could look:

    Childcare Provider: Private Home
    Then outline your achievements around time management, conflict resolution, nutrition and education, etc.

    Don’t give away information an employer doesn’t need to know!

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