Related: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing. Follow these steps to explain gaps in your employment history:. The first thing you should do to explain employment gaps on your resume is to try to spend the time you are unemployed preparing yourself for returning to work. You can do this by using this time for professional development such as earning certifications relevant to your industry, taking continuing education courses, being active in professional associations and spending time doing volunteer or contract work.
Doing this can help give you positive experiences you can use to fill employment gaps when writing your resume. Next, you need to determine whether your employment gap needs to be included in your resume. It is not always necessary to include every job you have had in your resume.
If you are a professional who has several years of experience and your employment gap occurred early in your career, it may not be necessary to include the job you had before your gap in employment. Generally, you should include only your most recent and most relevant employment experiences in the employment section of your resume. Once you determine which jobs you need to include in your resume, you can determine which employment gaps you need to explain.
Next, if the gaps in your employment history are only small gaps that occurred in-between jobs you can disguise these gaps by omitting the month from the date of each experience. Instead, simply list the years you were employed in each position.
However, this method of disguising gaps in employment on your resume usually only works well if the length of the gaps you are trying to disguise are less than a year in length and you worked in each position for a period of more than one year. For example, if you were employed in one position from August thru January and didn't begin your next job until August , you can disguise this employment gap by listing the dates of your first job as - and the dates of your next job as - Present.
However, while this can help you make it through the initial consideration round with your resume, you will likely still be asked about specific dates during an interview, so be prepared to explain the reason for your gap in a positive manner. Next, you can also try to make employment gaps look less obvious by using a resume style or format such as the functional resume format.
A functional resume format focuses more on your skills and achievements than on your experience. You can include sections in your resume such as a career summary statement and key accomplishments to help make the positive experiences you have the primary focus of your resume. Then, include your employment section toward the end of your resume. You can also combine the functional resume format with step three to minimize the impact of small employment gaps.
You will usually need to address longer periods of gaps in employment more directly in your resume than you need to with small employment gaps. If you have an employment gap that was more than a period of one year, then this gap will still be obvious on your resume even when only listing the years or when using a functional resume format. You can overcome this by including what you were doing during your employment gap in your experience section as if it were a job itself.
However, you can keep the entry brief so it doesn't distract the person reviewing your resume from more relevant experience. For example, if you spent four years as a stay-at-home parent until your child was ready for pre-school, then you can include this time in your experience section like this:. Took time away from professional career to raise young children and manage the household. If you can relate the experience you gained during your employment gap to the position you are applying for, then it may be beneficial to include more detailed information in your employment gap entry.
You can include specific examples of daily activities and responsibilities you had during your employment gap that are relevant to the duties or responsibilities of the position you are applying for. For example, if you have an employment gap of two years because you took time off work to be a full-time caregiver for an elderly relative and you are applying for a position as a nurse, the employment gap entry in your experience section may look more like this:.
Full-time caregiver, Fort Lauderdale, FL, - Employment gaps can occur for both voluntary and involuntary reasons. When explaining employment gaps on a resume, you want to try to show a good reason for the gap. It is very important not to lie on your resume—about an employment gap or anything else. If you lie on your resume, it will probably come back to haunt you.
Employers verify work history , and if you put incorrect information on your resume, it'll be discovered. For example, you could say - rather than May - August for a position. Then, if your next job began in November , you can list it as - 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. Consider a Different Resume Format: You can format your resume to minimize the visibility of gaps in your employment history. For example, you can put the dates in plain font instead of bold. Or, you can use a smaller font size than the one you're using for the company name and your job title. These small design and formatting choices can make a big difference.
Start your resume with a summary statement and career highlights section, so you are highlighting your skills and accomplishments, rather than what you did when. Or consider using a functional resume , where you highlight your skills and qualifications at the top, followed by your chronological work history.
Omit a Job or Two on Your Resume: You don't need to include all your experience on your resume, especially if you have been in the workforce for years. It's acceptable to limit the years of experience you include on your resume to fifteen when seeking a managerial or professional position, and to ten years when looking for other positions. Did you freelance or consult? Take a sabbatical?
How about volunteering? All those experiences count as work and can be included on your resume. List them as you would your other jobs — with job title, company name, job description, and dates of employment. If you took a class, you could list that in the education section of your resume. If you participated in a gap year experience , you could include that information on your resume as well.
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 you are ready to return to full-time employment —make it clear that the reason for your time off from the workforce has been resolved.
If you were laid off due to a workforce contraction, it would be important to provide any evidence of strong performance as you explain the circumstances surrounding the downsizing. If you are now targeting a job that requires different skills or competencies, then you might emphasize how your strengths are better suited to the job at hand.
Don't get stuck feeling like you have to justify why you stepped away from your career. You're not out to prove anything. Unfortunately, changing a diaper in under a minute doesn't count as a new skill set though that is a commendable feat. Be sure to mention any volunteer work, classes, certifications, or even conferences you attended during your employment gap. If none of those options are relevant, know you probably picked up a new soft skill.
General soft skills include communication, adaptability, problem solving, and critical observation. Remember to show , not tell. Offer concrete examples and situations that show how you learned to better communicate or how you became more comfortable adapting to unexpected situations.
Being able to show you've grown during your employment gap is respectable, so don't forget to highlight it. If you stepped away from your career without a concise timeline tied to your reasoning, explain why you're choosing to re-enter the workforce now instead of, say, a year from now.
Again, be concise and don't feel like you have to justify your decision. Simply let the hiring manager know that you've done what you needed to do during your time off and now you're ready and raring to get back to work. You need to be percent confident in yourself and your employment gap explanation. If you show uncertainty in your decision, the hiring manager might feel a little unsure, too. Don't downplay what you've been up to, either. You only cared for your sick mother?
That's a heavy task. You only took care of your two kids? That's no easy feat. You only went back to school for your master's degree? That's a big deal. Own your decision and explain it clearly and confidently. There's no reason to dwell on your employment gap. Sure, it's right there on your resume, so prepare to address it, but don't feel as though you need to acknowledge it for more than a minute or two.
Again, offer an explanation, highlight the positive outcomes of your decision, and explain why you're ready to strike up your career again. Don't overshare and don't spend time trying to justify your decision. Chances are, the timespan of your employment gap is a lot shorter than the amount of experience you actually have, so there's no need to let this brief moment of time define you or what you're capable of bringing to a company.
Go ahead and move onto your previous experience and all those awesome accomplishments you've already banked. Now that you know how to explain gaps in employment during the interview process, make sure you're presenting it effectively on your resume with these six tips. Click on the following link for more interview advice. Want help acing your next interview? Learn more about our sister site, TopInterview.
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Of course, this assumption is often a false one, because many job seekers are desperate to find work. There are two reasons why employers could make this assumption. They might assume you were working for a company, got fired, and now wish to erase them from your work history. In this section, you can talk about your motivations to work, and alleviate any concerns employers might have about your commitment to working. They may worry is whether it still affects you and whether it would prevent you from performing the job effectively.
If this applies to your situation, you can seek advice from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if you think a recruiter is discriminating against you on this basis. You can challenge this by including evidence of voluntary work, internships, schooling, or relevant online courses on your resume. Although honesty is usually the best policy, some personal revelations do not belong on your resume.
According to popular opinion, a gap of more than one year looks very suspicious on a resume. But is it that simple? Well, it depends on your chosen industry amongst other factors. Moreover, many skilled occupations require you to take continuing education classes to keep your skills up-to-date. Again, this depends on several factors, such as how old you are, and how close together the gaps were. If you recently left school, and you only have three years of work history in total, two short employment gaps in a 3-year period might seem suspicious.
However, two short employment gaps over a period of 10 years would probably be more acceptable. However, there are several reasons why jobs come to an end, and some of these reasons do not reflect poorly on the candidate. Fathers might want to look after their children too, but would recruiters be more suspicious of a man who has a 5 or year gap in his work history?
According to a recent study published by the Academy of Management Journal , managers who had several gaps in their work history had lower incomes and less career satisfaction than managers who worked continuously. This could be because there is more support for women returning to work after a career break. Also, it could be because employers are more likely to overlook a lengthy career break if it has been taken by a woman. You can challenge these wrongful assumptions by writing a clear and informative resume.
In most cases, the three-month rule will serve you well. A gap of three months or less should not raise too many eyebrows because three months is an acceptable timeframe to be job-seeking or taking a vacation between contracts. Similarly, if you were fired from a job that lasted less than three months, consider leaving this off your resume.
This kind of reporting allows you a bit of leeway. This technique works best if you have several years of work experience to play with, and if most of your jobs have lasted for at least one year. If you were unemployed due to bad health or you were caring for someone else, it may help to disclose this information on your resume. This is a perfectly valid approach, too.
You might find employers are more willing to give you a chance when they know the full story. If you decide to reveal this information on your resume, you should be brief and factual. Of course, the primary benefit of adding a voluntary placement directly to your work history is that it helps you to fill a gap in your employment history.
Was the company downsizing? Was there a re-structure? How many other employees were affected? Did you receive a severance package? If you include this information, employers are less likely to jump to the wrong conclusion. If you did something altruistic on your travels, such as volunteering, you could include this in the main body of your employment history as mentioned above.
Is it still worth mentioning on your resume? If you traveled for more than three months, you should say it on your resume. Subheadings like these can help you record periods of travel. If you report a period of extended travel on your resume, try to emphasize what you learned from your experience.
A short statement like this demonstrates leadership ability, an energetic personality, and strong organization skills. More than that, it shows you can reflect upon your experiences, and appraise your development. Gaps on your resume can make you look unreliable. To counteract this assumption, provide details of your referees on your resume.
References can dramatically enhance your credibility. Ideally, provide details of two previous employers on your resume. Always provide a professional email address and telephone number that can be verified by the recruiter. If you have a complicated work history, a resume might not do it justice. A cover letter allows you to discuss your motivations for working.
Remember, tailor each cover letter to the job you are applying for and avoid using templates. For some people, this gap could be 10, 20, or even 30 years. Undoubtedly, becoming a parent, or coping with a long-term illness, affords you specific skills that some recruiters will admire. You could get some training for a new career or look at jobs that are less popular to improve your chances of finding work.
The summary is the small paragraph at the top of your resume that highlights your skills and experiences. It also states what kind of job you are looking for. If your employment history is very sparse, employers will rely heavily on your summary to try and understand your profile.
If you have no official work history to write on your resume, you can start by listing voluntary experience instead. But what if you have none of that either? In that case, you should focus on skills rather than job roles. Under this subheading, you should bullet point several vital skills. For example, these could be — Resourceful, Team-oriented, Supportive, and Results-driven. Beside each bullet point, provide one clear example of you demonstrating this skill.
This example could be in the context of your family life or extra-curricular activities. Remember to provide an example of each skill you mention. You should aim to have at least six skills in total. If you have a strong educational background, then make this the centerpiece of your resume. Be specific about where the course was studied and the date it was achieved. This way, employers are more likely to take this information seriously.
Most resumes have space for listing your interests and personal achievements. This section can help employers understand you as a person. If you have one or more big gaps in employment that were due to circumstances that an employer might see as negative, it is better to explain those circumstances fully in your cover letter when applying for a job. Many employers will not view a gap in employment negatively.
They recognize the value of continuing education, caring for others, and personal growth experiences. They will often seek out job candidates who have something unusual to offer. By explaining your big gap in work history in the proper light, you may show the boss that you are the exact type of creative and self-motivated individual the company needs for that job you have always dreamed of.
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