How to Explain an Employment Gap on Your Resume
Many of us take time off, for one reason or another, from working. Sometimes, it’s by choice – maybe you were raising a child, traveling, taking care of a sick relative, or went back to school. In other cases, your time off from work may occur because you were laid off or fired and it took time to find a new job.
If you haven’t taken a break yet, you can plan it carefully to ensure a smooth return to the workforce. If the gap was in the past, and you’ve been employed since it occurred, you don’t need to call it out on your resume.
4 Ways to Make Employment Gaps Less Obvious on a Resume
1. Use Dates to Cover up the Gap: When listing dates on your resume, you don’t need to list the month/year if you were in a position for over a year or if your position spans multiple years. For example, you could say 2015 – 2017 (rather than May 2015 – August 2017) for a position. Then, if your next job began in November 2017, you can list it as 2017 – Present, which makes the nine-month employment gap less obvious. Here’s an example of how that can look:
As you can see, the resume doesn’t specifically say when the candidate started and ended employment, which can cover a brief employment gap. However, if you’re filling out a job application you’ll need to be more specific. You’ll also most likely be asked about the dates during a job interview, so be prepared to answer accurately.
Explaining an Employment Gap During a Job Interview
Explaining a gap in employment during an interview can be tricky. The best approach is usually to address the issue in a direct and forthright manner. Provide a clear rationale for taking time off if the break was voluntary. If you took time off to deal with a particular issue like caring for a sick relative or completing coursework and are ready to return to full-time employment, make it clear that the reason for your time off from the workforce has been resolved.
Emphasize the Positive
There are ways you can almost seamlessly return to work after a career break. Make sure that you emphasize any constructive activities during your gap period such as volunteer work, workshops or coursework, consulting or freelance work. Finally, exude enthusiasm for returning to work and make a very strong case for why your target job would be exciting for you and an excellent fit.