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Mar 19, 2024

How To Explain Gaps in Employment on Your Resume (With Examples)

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Many people worry about explaining gaps in their employment. A survey found that 85% of employers understand life happens, causing work breaks. This article will guide you through turning those gaps into positive discussion points on your resume.

Keep reading to learn how!

Understanding Employment Gaps on Resumes

Employment gaps on resumes can make job seekers worried. These are periods when someone was not working in a professional role. People have breaks in their job history for many reasons like health issues, taking care of family, or losing a job.

It's common and part of many people's career paths.

Explaining these gaps correctly is key to moving forward with your career development. Employers may wonder about them during the hiring process. Your resume should address these gaps clearly but positively.

Show what skills or experiences you gained during this time off from work. This approach helps employers understand your value better, even with some time away from the workforce.

How to Address Employment Gaps on Your Resume

Address employment gaps on your resume by being honest and transparent. Highlight relevant experience, omitting minor gaps, and using placeholders for extended ones.

Be honest and transparent

Maintain honesty and transparency when explaining employment gaps. Use your cover letter or resume to provide brief but truthful explanations for any career interruptions. Avoid embellishing or fabricating reasons for the gaps in your work history.

Instead, focus on demonstrating growth and learning during those periods, showcasing how these experiences have contributed to your overall skill set. Strive to highlight relevant skills gained from any non-traditional work experiences.

Moving forward with understanding the types of employment gaps and how to explain them, let's explore addressing parental leave in a professional manner.

Omit minor gaps and only include relevant experience

When addressing gaps on your resume, prioritize relevant experience over minor gaps. Focus on the skills and achievements that are directly related to the job you are applying for.

Make sure to highlight experiences that showcase your ability to excel in the role you're seeking, rather than including every minor job or project.

To explain employment gaps effectively, emphasize significant roles and projects that have contributed to your professional growth and development. By excluding minor gaps and emphasizing relevant experiences, you'll present a cohesive and impactful resume to potential employers.

Use a placeholder for extended gaps

When dealing with extended gaps in your employment history, consider using a career break placeholder on your resume. This can be as simple as listing the years you were employed at a company rather than specific months and years.

Another option is to include an explanatory statement such as “Family sabbatical for caregiving responsibilities” or “Independent study and personal development.” These placeholders draw attention away from the gap itself and focus on the valuable experiences gained during that time.

Moving forward, let’s delve into different types of employment gaps and how to explain them effectively.

Highlight skills and experiences gained during the gap

During the gap, I honed my communication skills through volunteer work. This allowed me to effectively coordinate and collaborate with various team members. Additionally, I took online courses in digital marketing to expand my skill set in a rapidly advancing industry.

Exploring new hobbies during the employment gap broadened my creativity and problem-solving abilities. Engaging in freelance projects also provided hands-on experience in project management, allowing me to sharpen my organizational skills while working independently.

Types of Employment Gaps and How to Explain Them

Explain various types of employment gaps and provide examples for each to guide readers effectively. Assist in understanding the nuances of different job gap circumstances and how to address them appropriately on a resume.

Parental leave

Returning to the workforce after parental leave can be challenging. Be clear about the period of leave on your resume and use this time to highlight any new skills, volunteer work, or freelance projects you undertook during that period.

Emphasize how these experiences have enhanced your abilities as a professional and showcase your readiness to rejoin the workforce with enthusiasm and dedication.

Explaining a gap due to parental leave requires honesty and positivity. Use this time wisely by focusing on personal growth, skill development, and maintaining professional networks.

Layoffs or termination

If you've experienced layoffs or termination, it's essential to address them on your resume or during an interview. Be honest about the circumstances and focus on the skills and experiences gained from previous roles.

Use positive language when explaining how you contributed to your previous employer and what you learned from the experience despite the challenges faced. Highlight any professional development or new certifications obtained during this period to showcase your proactive approach to career growth.

Explaining a gap due to layoffs or termination can show resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to bounce back from setbacks in a positive light. It's crucial to emphasize how these experiences have contributed to your overall skill set and professional development while demonstrating readiness for a new opportunity in your job search.

Pandemic-related gaps

Addressing pandemic-related gaps in your resume is crucial in today's job market. When explaining these gaps, focus on any new skills or experiences gained during the pandemic period, such as remote working proficiency, online courses completed, or volunteer work to showcase adaptability and resilience.

Highlight any freelance projects or part-time work you engaged in during this time to demonstrate initiative and dedication to professional development. Use keywords like "remote work," "online learning," and "adaptability" to emphasize your ability to navigate challenges effectively.

During the pandemic, many experienced employment disruptions due to layoffs or business closures, so it's essential for employers to understand the context of these gaps. Emphasize how you utilized this time productively rather than solely focusing on the temporary break from full-time employment.

Medical reasons

Transitioning from pandemic-related gaps to medical reasons, it's common for individuals to have employment gaps due to health-related issues. Whether it's recovering from an illness, undergoing treatment, or taking time off for a medical condition, these reasons can affect work history and need careful consideration when addressing them in a resume.

When explaining medical reasons for employment gaps on your resume, focus on the recovery process and any skills or knowledge gained during this time.

- During periods of illness or recovery

- After undergoing treatment

Family obligations

Transitioning from medical reasons to family obligations, addressing gaps due to family obligations on a resume requires honest and transparent communication. When explaining employment gaps related to family responsibilities, emphasize the skills and experiences gained during this time off.

Highlight any volunteer work, freelancing, or professional development activities that you engaged in during this period.

To effectively address employment gaps attributed to family obligations in your resume, it's essential to be forthright about the valuable experiences and skills acquired rather than focusing solely on the gap itself.

Being a stay-at-home parent

Transitioning from family obligations to being a stay-at-home parent, it's essential to emphasize the skills and experiences gained during this time. Balancing household responsibilities can showcase multitasking, time management, and organizational abilities.

Highlight any volunteer work or part-time roles undertaken as they demonstrate continued engagement in the workforce and skill retention.

During a period of being a stay-at-home parent, highlighting soft skills such as conflict resolution, problem-solving capabilities, and effective communication can be valuable assets.

How to Overcome Employment Gaps

- Demonstrate ongoing learning and skills development.

- Maintain a positive attitude and consider alternative resume formats.

Demonstrate continuous learning

Keep learning through online courses or workshops related to your field. Attending industry conferences and networking events can also showcase your commitment to staying updated with current trends and advancements in your profession.

Additionally, gaining new certifications or accreditations demonstrates dedication to self-improvement and professional growth. Seek opportunities to volunteer, participate in relevant projects, or take on freelance work to acquire new skills and stay engaged within your industry.

Employers value candidates who consistently seek ways to enhance their knowledge and expertise, helping them remain competitive in a dynamic job market.

Stay positive

Maintain an optimistic tone throughout your job search. Emphasize your enthusiasm and willingness to learn in cover letters and interviews, showcasing a proactive attitude. Highlight your adaptability and resilience in handling career interruptions or employment gaps, demonstrating that you are ready to contribute effectively to potential employers.

Remain confident during networking events or interviews, focusing on the valuable skills gained during any break from traditional employment. Showcase a positive mindset by discussing how you've used this time to grow both personally and professionally, illustrating a forward-thinking approach that sets you apart from other candidates.

Use a career break placeholder

When explaining a career break on your resume, consider using a career break placeholder such as "Sabbatical" or "Personal Development Leave." This can help fill the gap and show that you were purposefully taking time off for personal or professional growth.

It's essential to be honest about the reason for the break and focus on how it enriched your skills or knowledge.

Consider using a career break placeholder such as "Sabbatical" or "Personal Development Leave" when explaining an employment gap. Ensure transparency about the reason for the break and emphasize how it contributed to your personal development and skill enhancement.

Consider a different resume format

Explore utilizing a functional or skills-based resume format to draw attention away from chronological gaps. Highlight your skills and qualifications up top, showcasing your value to potential employers.

This can effectively shift the focus away from any employment gaps and emphasize what you bring to the table.

Consider using a combination resume format, which blends both chronological work history with key skills and accomplishments. By doing so, you showcase your professional background while also highlighting relevant skills that make you a strong candidate for the position.

article author

Kshama Sharma - Resume, CV and Cover Letter Writing Expert


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