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How To Handle Employment Gaps On Your Resume (With Interview Tips)

Updated on Dec 04, 2020 10009 views
How To Handle Employment Gaps On Your Resume (With Interview Tips)

The process of building work experience is not always smooth, continuous, and uninterrupted. Sometimes, there are breaks in-between. This may be due to being relieved of their jobs, taking time off to start a family, raising children, etc.

Whatever the reason is, it may frighten you as a job seeker as gaps may signify to a hiring manager that there is something that makes you unlikeable.

But it isn't always all gloomy. Sure, you may be intimidated while explaining your absence, but there are ways you can explain your absence from work for a period of time. This article will detail it.

In case you are unsure of what an employment gap is, it is a period of time (months or years) a job seeker is unemployed.

Now, let's look at the various possible reasons for an employment gap on your resume:

  • Raising and caring for a child (ren).
  • For health-related issues.
  • Relocating to a new place.
  • Nursing an ill relative.
  • Traveling.
  • Furthering your education.
  • Earning certifications.
  • Launching a business.
  • Retrenchment, being laid-off, and so on.

These are some key reasons that are tenable for an employment gap in your resume.

Note: If the reason for your gap is not listed above, it doesn't mean that your reason is necessarily untenable or that you have to lie and adopt any of the reasons above while explaining your employment gap.

No. Lying on your resume is very risky and the consequences that come with being caught aren't worth it.

Whatever your reason is, be honest about it when asked. Be straight-to-the-point with your answer, as brevity would keep you from giving unnecessary details that may dig you deeper.


How to Handle Employment Gaps On Your Resume

1. When Listing Work Experience Write the Years, Instead Of Months

2. Add A Short, Explanatory Note

3. Be Selective About Work Experiences You Include

4. Change Your Resume Format

5. Highlight Your Freelance and/or Volunteer Roles

6. Write a Cover Letter

1. When Listing Work Experience Write the Years, Instead Of Months

Hiring managers tend to brush off experiences listed in years as opposed to months. The thing is, except you say it, it wouldn't even be obvious. Let's say you worked at X group of companies from November to August (8 months), rather than writing it like this on your resume:

November 2015 – August 2016

Do this, instead:

2015 - 2016

You aren't lying; you just aren't being specific. It is a great tactic to minimize attention from your absence.

The thing about this technique is that it only works for short employment gaps. That is a 2-3 months gap at most. This won't work in the event that you have an excessive number of gap years or even anything longer than one year.


2. Add A Short, Explanatory Note

In the event that your gaps are longer or more successive, considering adding a short note on the resume posting your purpose behind the gap in work. Simply show it like some other work experience. Put your past experience with the dates you held them. What's more, for your gap, you'd have dates there as well, and a one-line clarification. For instance:

'I applied for my Masters Degree Programme'

This is because, during the resume selection stage, you wouldn't be called in to defend yourself as compared to an interview where you have ample time to clarify, explain and justify your absence from work.

On the occasion that you employ these techniques, consider going onto your LinkedIn account and rolling out similar improvements there as well. This is to ensure your profile matches in case the prospective employer does a check.


3. Be Selective About Work Experiences You Include

Next, you need to decide if your business gap should be remembered for your resume. It isn't generally important to incorporate each occupation you have had in your resume. If you are a professional who has quite a long list of experiences and your employment gap happened from the get-go in your profession, it may not be important to incorporate the occupation you had before the gap you took in your resume.

By and large, you ought to incorporate just your latest and most significant work experiences in the work experience section of your resume. When you figure out which positions you need to remember for your resume, you can figure out which employment gaps you need to clarify.

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4. Change Your Resume Format

If it is difficult for you to rework your skills, experiences, and employment gap with the standard resume design, you do have the alternative to make use of another resume format. The most suitable format for this is the functional resume format.

A functional resume is an alternate way to deal with a resume that zeros in more on your skills and their functionality rather than proficient experience, which can be useful for you if you have gaps in your work experience.

Note: This kind of resume should just be utilized if all else fails. Hiring managers, for the most part, are not the biggest fans of the functional resume as a result of the manner in which it strays from the standard format.

It can also tell you as it gives off the vibes that you are trying to shroud something. Also, the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can't peruse this sort of resume appropriately, therefore, removing you from the running for some positions before you've even gotten your opportunity. In spite of the fact that a functional resume may appear to be a decent choice, you should only make use of one when you're certain the ATS wouldn't be used and/or have some sort of influence in the organization that can cause them to overlook your usage of this resume format.

How to write a resume that screams "hire me"

5. Highlight Your Freelance and/or Volunteer Roles

Not every work experience has to be gathered from the traditional workplace setting. If you chipped in for a freelance job or took on an unpaid volunteer job that permitted you to assemble pertinent skills or increase work experience, at that point these positions merit a spot on your resume work experience. Treat every position you've held/participated in as you would a paid employment by portraying your job and featuring your significant commitments and achievements on your resume.

At this point, concentrate on feature the work you accomplished for a specific customer and the outcomes you accomplished. This will give your resume a cleaner look and make you show up less like an occupation container and more like a submitted specialist.

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6. Write a Cover Letter

In the event that these choices don't work for you write a cover letter. Why is this necessary, you must wonder? Well, a cover letter is for explication. It is an avenue to either explain what you have listed in your resume in detail and/or bring in additional details you couldn't because of your word-count. This is a smart thought regardless.

In your cover letter, clarify what occurred in detail and inform them that the gap in employment was for a reason and that you can reveal to them the full story as opposed to permitting them to make presumptions (you're normally in an ideal situation by addressing a potentially problematic spot head-on before it is brought up by others).

As it is not possible for anyone to mention to you with 100% assurance what is suitable in your line of work, with the particular conditions of your gap in employment (dates, length, the purpose behind the hole, and so forth)

So test things out. Trial and error can give you key pointers. Send out 10 resumes one way, and if no one's reacting, switch something up. In the event that it's not working, you can't simply continue doing the same things as you are on auto-pilot. Doing this would almost guarantee that you never get hired, at least not on the merit of your resume.

As you know a good resume is not the all-be-it-all. Your employment gap can still come up during your interview. Here are some pointers on how to explain your employment gap to a potential employer during an interview:

1. Get Ready To be Questioned About it

As it was stated earlier, a gap in your resume is an oddity. It gives from questioning. If you have a gap, you are expected to explain why you have it, including a gap on your resume won't necessarily keep you from acing an interview. However, hiring managers will expect you to make a clarification. Take the time in advance to work out how you can address the gap in a concise and straightforward manner.

2. Honesty Is the Best Policy

Sounds cliché but it's always advisable that you speak the truth during interviews. This is because many employers run a background check on their employees. So, imagine emerging as the best candidate interviewed but a check is done and your story does not check out.

You need to be honest without broadly expounding. An essential layout for your answer could be: "I [reason you were not employed]. During that time, [what you did during the gap]. Getting back to work was top of my brain during that period and I'm prepared to do that now. In two lines or less, simply state what you were doing.


"I was involved in a car crash that led to my hospitalization for 13 months. After undergoing multiples surgeries and physical rehabilitation, I have gained full physical and cognitive abilities"

Take note of these key points:

  • Clarify why you have gaps in your resume.
  • Put the hiring manager's mind at rest by stating why you won't be involved in a gap again (provided your reason is self-inflicted).
  • Offer to share knowledge gained during the gap.
  • Keep your clarification short.
  • Play Up Your Skills

3. Play up Your Skills

Nowadays, the skill set of job seekers are being focused on more by hiring managers than just their work experience. So, if you are applying for a job opening that requires various skills, at that point you may underline how your qualities are more qualified for the job. In the event that you have made a move to address any issues that prompted your gap, you should make reference to the means you have taken to increase and strengthen your skillset.

Now that you know how to handle employment gaps, get more interviews by completing your profile today.

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

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