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How to Explain Employment Gaps on your Resume


Written by

ResumeGiants Team


An employment gap on the resume is one of jobseekers’ many nightmares, as they assume it drastically reduces their chances of landing their desired job.


A LinkedIn survey revealed that 84% of 2,000 US jobseekers who were unemployed between March and October 2020 believed staying out from work is problematic.


This article includes:

  • What is a Career Gap?

  • Reasons for a Career Gap

  • How to explain career gaps in your work history?

  • Career Gaps on the Resmue: Conclusion

If you feel despair for the gaps in employment in your resume, keep in mind that such a factor doesn’t seal your fate.


For this reason, this ResumeGiants article will present the best options on how to talk about career gaps on your resume, ensuring you maximize your chances of getting employed.


What is a Career Gap?

A career gap is time away from work to develop interests, rectify personal issues, build new skills, or change lifestyle. Essentially, having gaps in employment doesn’t mean you halted your career progression. Instead, it means you left the typical workplace environment to develop yourself in other ways. Keep this in mind when making your resume, as an employment gap is not always a burden but a chance to show other strengths and core competencies.


Employers recognize that such situations happen, especially career gaps after graduation, due to factors like a pandemic, raising a family, illness, volunteer work, knowledge acquisition, and many more.


Reasons for a Career Gap

Multiple reasons exist that explain why you chose not to work for a while, and these may include:


Parental Leave

Becoming a parent is tedious, and sometimes, the period given by a company for you to adjust to your new reality can be unrealistically short as the minimum period for Parental leave is six months.


On the other hand, you probably didn’t receive any break after having a child, with a boss asking that you return to work immediately.


Regardless, it’s best to let the employer know that you took parental leave to care for your child and prevent poor performance at work; nevertheless, you’re fine and ready to work again.


2. The Pandemic

The recent pandemic dealt a heavy blow to the job market, presenting an employment rate of 14.7% in April 2020, the highest ever seen since 1948.


Employers know about the effects of the virus on society and can understand a career gap explanation from this factor. It would be best to highlight on your resume that the period of absence was pandemic-related and not due to performance.


3. Family

Taking care of a sick individual can cause a career gap as it’s not uncommon for parents, partners, siblings, and close friends to fall gravely ill while you progress with your career.

If such is the case, ensure to briefly explain the situation, then reassure them of your interest in the job.


4. Medical Complications

Medical issues are a common cause of absence at work, which can apply to Employment gaps.

In such a scenario, you can convey that you required time to tackle some serious medical issues or illnesses but are fine and ready to take a new role.


Note: There’s no need to give great detail about the issue, except when asked.


5. Termination

If you were laid off in your previous job, carefully explain the reasons behind the occurrence, as a wrong statement can ruin your chances of getting employed. Also, avoid showing any anger or blaming your previous company, as it shows a lack of professionalism.


Note that other reasons for the missed work time exist; therefore, it’s crucial to articulate your absence to the curious employer.


How to explain career gaps in your work history?

Now you understand that having a career gap isn’t bad, as numerous understandable factors can produce this occurrence. So it’s time to explain your absence to the employer articulately.


Some practical tips in this scenario include:


1. Avoid Oversharing

Explaining your career absence is crucial for building trust with your new employer, but avoid offering too much information about the situation. This is because someone who speaks to countless potential hires wouldn’t care about how many diapers you’ve changed or your six-month adventure climbing mountains in Asia.


Additionally, if you faced hardships or tragedies that forced gaps in employment in your resume, explain carefully because not everyone, including the hiring manager, knows what to do when presented with grief.


Essentially, give them the reason without going into excessive detail or breaking down in tears. They are your employer, not your therapist.


2. Emphasize Newly Acquired Skills

Changing Little Timmy’s diapers is a wholesome but useless skill in the employment world, as it presents no value to the company. Therefore, opt to emphasize other practical acquisitions during the employment gap like volunteer work, certification, relevant coursework, or conferences that you attended.


However, if circumstances prevent you from doing any of the above, you can opt for newly acquired soft skills. Examples include:

  • Problem-solving

  • Communication

  • Critical thinking

  • Observation

  • Adaptability

For bonus points, include examples of situations where you applied the newly acquired skill.


3. Show Confidence

While conveying crucial information, keep your composure; be bold, as a lack of confidence will cause the hiring manager to be unsure of your abilities or stories.


Also, don’t downplay the cause of your absence; whether you cared for your loved one, raised a child, or returned to school for a master’s degree, those tasks are difficult to complete.


Essentially, internalize your decision to be absent and convey it effectively.


4. Explain why you’re ready to work

After explaining why you stepped away from your career temporarily, proceed to show why you feel it’s time to re-enter the workforce after a few months or years have passed.


Keep in mind that this part doesn’t require you to do any complicated mental activity; let the hiring manager know that the reason for your leave is over, and now you’re ready to offer value.


5. Continue the interview

The time needed to satisfy the employer’s curiosity depends on the individual. However, the time doesn’t last longer than a minute or two. Besides, the information already appears on your resume, so dwelling on it is merely redundant and unnecessary.


The entire explanation is simple:

  1. Explain your reason for the gap

  2. Highlight the positive outcome of the whole ordeal

  3. Explain why you feel it’s time to return to the workforce.

Remember: there’s no need for oversharing or justifying your decision.


Career Gaps on the Resmue: Conclusion

Are career gaps bad? No.


What matters is the type of gaps in your employment and how you deal with them in your resume. Hopefully, this brief guide was enough to help you tackle the issue altogether.

Speaking of resumes, if creating one seems like too much of a hassle, consider using our free online resume builder as it guides you on how to write a resume that works.


Good luck!

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