Employment Gaps On Your Resume

How To Cover Employment Gaps On Your Resume

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How do you handle employment gaps on your resume?

At some time in our careers, we will all have a gap in our employment history—maybe a few weeks or months, maybe a few years. A gap can occur because of a layoff, a family emergency, a health issue, a desire to further education, and many other excellent reasons. So, how do you approach an employment gap?

First, it is not necessary to give the starting and ending months for a job. If you held one job from January 2003 to April 2010 and held the next from June 2010 to the present, simply omit the months from your resume. List only the years (2003-2010, 2010-present).

In a long career, a gap of a month or two is of no interest to recruiters.

Second, if you left the workforce to further your education, those years should be covered under the “Education” section of your resume; or you can add a single line in the employment section to indicate that you spent the gap pursuing a degree.

Third, if you worked as a volunteer or consultant during the gap, by all means include that information. Volunteer and consulting work is work.

Finally, you may want to explain a gap in your cover letter or e-mail. The explanation should be very brief, no more than one sentence. Recruiters do not need details about your family, health, or other issues.

If asked about the gap during a job interview, use the same brief explanation. You want to convey that the situation is over and you are focused on rejoining the workforce.

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Robin Schlinger

Robin Schlinger is the founder of Robin’s Resumes which provides excellent services to those who value the best in resumes and career marketing documentation.

9 comments

  1. I have some advice for the returning stay-at-home moms. First do some research on job boards for the types of jobs you are seeking. By research I mean pull up posted job descriptions and review them for the skills and talents they are asking for. 2nd do an honest self-assessment of how your skills match up to the research you did. Note the areas of strength and areas of weakness – make sure you include your volunteer work as this can be just as good a way to acquire work skills as paid employment. When you find a “gap” (weakness) look for on-line courses you could take to quickly nuetralize the gap, or talk to friends in that profession/industry to quickly get up-to-speed. 3rd use networking to find job opportunities where being referred will make up for your work gap. Let’s be honest here, with the job supply/demand so out of balance now, the hiring manager is going to screen out candidates that aren’t near-perfect matches, UNLESS you can get a referral. With a referral you are “pre-approved” so to speak and have a better chance of getting an interview to explain more fully. the

  2. In the past, I’ve tried leaving months off my resume, and guess what happens? When I show them to contract company agents, they want to see the months. So I kept having to put that information back in.

  3. Hi, read your article. I am an RN and have been fired from my last 5 jobs. After about 6-7 months. It was not performance but interpersonal issues. Prior to my last 5 jobs, I had been with my company from 98-2006. I obtained professional help, and have been in couseling and on medications for the past two years and want to return to my profession. How do I explain this mess. I have put my resume out there however, it appears I am a hopper and I cannot get any interviews. I don’t want to lie or delete my valuable work history and experience but this is not looking good. Please help.

  4. I had worked for one company the last 20 years. I was layed off in June 2012 and did not begin looking for work for the next six months. Instead , I went on a long overdue cruise with my wife and spent alot of time at home with my kids. Now that I am looking again, how should I explain this gap on my resume? Thanks in advance!

  5. Hi Jennifer, I’m in the same boat as you! I took 10 years off to be a stay at home mom.

    4 years ago I re-entered the work force and was lucky to get a job in my field. Now that I’m ready to look again, I’m not sure how to put my resume together. The general recommendation is to only put your last 10-15 years of experience. I fear that if I did that it would look like I only have 4 years of experience, when the reality is that I have close to 20. Oh, but then THAT indicates how OLD I am! Anyone have any suggestions on how to mind the gap AND the over 40 age issue at the same time? :)

    Thanks in advance!

  6. I took 8 years off to be a stay at home mom. I did volunteer at their schools and also worked for the school (as a paraprofessional) which is TOTALLY irrelevant to my career. How do you suggest wording this for women that have a gap and have reentered the workforce.

  7. This information is critical! Often very experienced individuals fail to deal with this ‘matter of fact’ detail in the resume and also during the interview. Thanks for sharing!

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