The Best Ways to Explain a Gap in Your Resume

When a potential employer reviews your resume, they’re looking for clues. First and foremost, that you’re qualified for the job—but also, that they can trust you, and your work ethic. Job gaps can send up a red flag to employers that you may not be who you seem. But have no fear—many people take time off from work to raise children, take care of sick loved ones, travel, complete course work, and much more.

Three ways to handle job gaps

If you have job gaps on your resume, the key is to know how to position them to avoid any suspicion that would prevent you from getting a job. You can put a hiring manager’s mind at ease with the following:

  1. Be honest. It’s usually adequate to list your employment from the past five jobs. If a job gap is present within this span, be upfront about it. The best place to mention it is in your cover letter, and be prepared to discuss it during your interview. Never lie on your resume, because a hiring manager can easily contact your previous employer and find out.
  2. Explain what you learned. If you have a job gap due to being let go from a past position, give a brief summary of the situation—keeping it as positive as possible, as you avoid finger-pointing. Then, explain what you learned as the result of having lost the job, and how you’ve applied this knowledge to jobs after thereafter.
  3. Describe the skills you gained. The adult mind is always learning! If you took time off work, simply describe what off-the-job skills you gained. New parents may have learned how to maximize time management, and world travelers may have learned an appreciation of diversity and other cultures. There are plenty of soft skills employers look for, such as communication, listening, organizational skills and more… how many did you tack on?

Work with a recruiter

If you have any questions about how to position a job gap, your recruiter can help. She’s part job coach and wants you to succeed—and will give you tips to spruce up your resume and interview skills.

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