How to Explain Gaps in Your Resume

Gaps in your resume occur for all kinds of reasons like, starting a family, medical issues, taking a leave of absence to travel the world or volunteer. It is how you go about describing what you did and what you learned during those times that is important.

Where to Begin?

Don’t be shy to describe the details of your separation from a company. There are many reasons why you may have left an organization such as restructuring or a department downsizing or maybe you decided to leave on your own. Whatever the reason,

it is important to keep it positive!

If you really disliked the company or management that you worked for, try not to write an explanation that screams “I hated my previous employer”, this can throw up a red flag for future hiring managers. Instead say something like “After the acquisition, management continued to turn over and no longer aligned with personal values at which point I completed any open projects and provided two weeks’ notice before exiting the organization.

If you took time off to spend with family or travel the world, let the hiring manager know. If there is a purpose or intention to the gap, it is much easier for employers to understand. It is also important to express that the gap was temporary, all issues have been resolved, and you are ready to get to work. This is always a concern for employers, will this person need to leave again for the same or similar reason, so make sure to put them at ease either within your resume or in the interview.

Emphasize What You Learned During the Gap

As mentioned, a gap in a resume scares an employer because it could imply that the person is not dependable and that they may leave again. To put the employers mind at ease on a resume, here are some things you can mention:

Any certifications earned, or courses taken during the gap – maybe you did some research and soul searching and feel this next position is your “calling”

Any consulting, freelance, or contract work done during the gap – this type of work demonstrates that despite whatever else is going on, you were able to maintain a strong work ethic

Valuable experience gained – for example, volunteering and major personal growth

Skills Learned – for example, if you took a break to care for a sick family member or to raise children, then you certainly learned compassion and multi-tasking, even budget management by handling household expenses with one income

Always be Honest

No matter what the situation, always be honest because the truth has a way of coming out eventually. There is always a way to see the glass half full and spin a possibly negative situation into something positive that you can contribute as an employee of this new organization.