Published September 1, 2020
How to Explain a Resume Gap
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Worried about explaining gaps in your employment history? Here’s how to address tricky resume gaps, and even turn them into a selling point in the eyes of prospective employers.
Do you have a gap in your resume due to illness, study, parenting responsibilities or another life event? If you’re nervous about starting your job search due to having a resume gap, don’t fret. We’ve rounded up some of the best ways to address employment gaps in your work history and score that new job you’ve been eyeing.
While it can feel nerve-racking to bring up your employment gaps, it’s essential to be transparent with any prospective employers so that they don’t jump to any negative conclusions about you. After all, the last thing you would want them to assume is that your career break was because you didn’t have the skills to land a job, or possibly even because you were in jail! Instead, be honest about your employment history and use the following tips to explain the gap in your resume when you’re at your next job interview.
Keep It Simple
There’s no need to divulge all your deepest darkest secrets when explaining an employment gap. Merely saying “I was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and took six months to recover” is plenty. Provide this information in your cover letter, not your resume, and be prepared to elaborate in your interview.
Frame Your Employment Gap in a Positive Light
It’s essential to provide a reassuring explanation to your hiring manager or recruiter and emphasise that your work won’t be interrupted by a similar reason again. Also, use this time to share any valuable lessons or experiences you gained through your time off work.
Highlight Your Achievements
Just because you didn’t have a permanent job for some time doesn’t mean you didn’t achieve or experience anything at that time. Try to draw achievements or lessons from any volunteer work, casual work or freelance work you did in your downtime. Additionally, mention any challenges that you faced, any further study you were able to do, or any valuable experiences you had as a stay-at-home parent, for example.
Addressing Common Resume Gaps
So what’s the best way of addressing the specific reason for your time off? Here are some common scenarios and ways to explain them at your next interview:
Failed business or freelance endeavour
Did you take time out from paid employment to try to start your own business? This “failure” doesn’t have to be a black mark on your resume. Taking the initiative to start your own business could be seen as a positive in the eyes of your potential employer, so try to highlight the lessons that you learnt and any achievements that you did make.
This could refer to raising children or taking care of an unwell loved one. Whatever the reasons, employers are doubtful to look at this in a negative light. Just make sure to explain that these family responsibilities will not affect your career in the future, perhaps because the children are now in school or the unwell family member now has a full-time carer.
Taking a sabbatical
This one might feel a little harder to explain, possibly calling into question your commitment to work. It’s perfectly okay to say that you simply needed to take a break from things and wanted to focus on your personal development. Just be sure to provide closure to the employer, detailing the lessons you learnt from your time out and explaining that you’re not looking to take another extended break any time soon.
Recovering from illness or injury
Unexpected things can happen in life, with illness and injury a common reason for many people’s resume gaps. You can provide a simple explanation to the employer, perhaps saying that you have recovered from your illness with no chance of relapse, or were able to be wholly rehabilitated after an accident.
Going back to school
Taking time off work to pursue further study or training is sure to be viewed in a positive light by employers. Make sure to highlight the new skills you picked up and your enthusiasm for undertaking a new position that’ll allow you to apply these skills.
Explaining resume gaps doesn’t have to be daunting, as long as you prepare for it. Follow the steps above and have a solid cover letter and resume template on hand to set yourself up for success.
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