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How to Explain Gaps in Employment on Resume and Job Interviews

Updated: Apr 16

A strong resume is your key to landing that dream interview. But what happens if your resume has a gap in your employment history? Fear not! Resume gaps, or employment breaks, are more common than you might think. The key is to address them strategically and confidently.

How to Explain Gaps in Employment on Resume and Job Interviews

This article will equip you with effective strategies on how to explain gaps in employment on resume and job interviews. We'll also explore how to frame your time away from work in a positive light, highlighting the valuable skills you gained during that period.

Why Explain Your Resume Gap?

While some resume gaps might be brief and easily overlooked, others might raise questions for potential employers.  By proactively addressing the gap, you can:

  • Demonstrate transparency and honesty. A clear explanation shows you have nothing to hide.

  • Refocus the conversation on your qualifications. Don't let the gap be the first thing they notice.

  • Highlight valuable skills you gained during your break. Traveling, volunteering, or caring for family can all develop valuable transferable skills.

Strategies for Effectively Explaining Your Resume Gap

  • Tailor your explanation to the specific job and company. Consider what skills and experiences from your break would be most relevant to the position.

  • Be honest and concise. There's no need to go into unnecessary detail, but a brief explanation shows you're upfront.

  • Focus on the positive outcomes. Did you gain new skills? Did your break allow you to pursue personal development? Frame your time away in a positive light.

How to Frame Your Employment Break

Here are some common reasons for employment breaks and how to frame them on your resume and in interviews:

  • Caregiving: "During this time, I took a leave of absence to care for a family member. This experience strengthened my time management and organizational skills."

  • Travel: "I embarked on a long-term travel adventure, which broadened my horizons and fostered cultural awareness." (Highlight any volunteer work or language acquisition during your travels!)

  • Education: "I returned to school to pursue a degree in [relevant field]. This not only enhanced my knowledge but also honed my research and analytical skills."

  • Freelance Work: "I utilized this time to pursue freelance projects in [relevant field]. This allowed me to stay up-to-date with industry trends and develop my [specific skill]."

How to Explain Gaps in Employment on Resume

There are a few ways to address your resume gap depending on the length and context of the break:

  • For short breaks: You can simply list the dates of your employment with a hyphen.

  • For longer breaks: Briefly explain the reason for the gap using a neutral term like "sabbatical" or "personal leave."

  • Consider a functional resume format: This format focuses on skills over work history, which can be helpful if your break involved relevant skill development.

Need Help Crafting Your Resume or Interview Skills?

Even with these strategies, crafting the perfect explanation for your resume gap can be challenging.  That's where we come in!

Looking for a career coach?

Book a free consultation with us today and save up to 20% on our coaching services! Let our resume and interview expert, Dr. Kristy K. Taylor, help you develop a compelling narrative that showcases your skills and experience, regardless of employment gaps.  Together, we can turn your resume into a powerful tool that lands you that dream job!

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