Explaining employment gaps in a resume

Apr 19, 2013

As you’re building your resume to apply for a job, you realize you have a large gap in your employment history. How you handle it depends on the reason for the gap. But professional resume builders agree the gap should be addressed.

According to author and resume professional Susan Ireland, the most important thing to do is acknowledge the gap so your potential employer doesn’t feel like you’re hiding something.

Among her suggestions for addressing employment gaps:

  • Consider everything you were doing during the gap, and see how it might apply to the position you’re seeking. Travel, volunteer work, and continuing education can all be relevant.
  • Use years as reference, and address the gaps with job titles reflecting what you did that time. For example:
    • 2010-2012, Primary Caregiver for Terminally Ill Relative
    • 2005-2007, Full-time Parent
    • 2004-2005, Medical Volunteer in Africa
  • If your experience is a mix of professional and voluntary, label this section of your resume “Work History” or “History”; words like “professional” and “employment” imply compensation.

Gaps in employment don’t have to eliminate you from contention for a new job. Your honesty, and the variety in your experiences, could be the right combination for a potential employer.

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