4 Reasons for Career Gaps and How to Handle Them on Your Resume
Especially in this economy, employment gaps are typical. Employers generally view a gap in employment negatively, however, it does not have to be this way. In these cases, it is important to indicate why you took the time off.
There are a lot of legitimate reasons for employment gaps and assuming you did not spend your time eating Bon-Bons and watching Oprah, you should not be afraid to state what they were. Whether you chose to become a stay-at-home parent, to pursue your education further, to deal with ailing parents (or your own illness), or were just unsuccessful in gaining new employment, you need to help an employer understand the reasons for the gap. Note that it is not enough to just mention your reasons on a cover letter as the resume must be able to survive as a stand-alone document.
There are generally 4 reasons to have a gap in your resume:
- Raised a family
This is an entirely legitimate reason to have a gap so do not try to hide it and please do not try to embellish it by using silly titles like Household or Domestic Engineer. Just say you invested in providing a stable environment for a family of X.
Your challenge in returning to the workforce is to indicate that your skills are fresh, so list the volunteer jobs you did with the school and community to showcase your organizational and other skills that support your theme. If you are from a technical field like IT or Engineering then you might need to showcase skills refresher courses or recent certifications you might have gained.
Especially in these times, gaps due to unemployment are common and the need to enter information here is entirely dependent on how long you were unemployed. If you haven’t worked in a year or more, having an unexplained gap on the resume connotes that people chose not to hire you which is certainly not the impression you want to make.
If you took some temporary jobs, just bunch them under the heading Temporary Positions and indicate you selected to take some temporary roles while searching for the next appropriate job challenge. You can also include volunteer roles here too. If you did some part-time consulting, then indicate that and list some projects and successful results you achieved.
- Family Matters
Sometimes you just have to take time off to deal with ailing relatives and financial matters. Or perhaps you were ill and don’t want to go into the details. Dealing with this is simple. Just list Sabbatical and state: “Dealt with urgent family matters now fully resolved”.
When it comes up in an interview, just say something like: “I always give 110% to my job and I knew that I could not do that at this time, so I decided to take the time off. However, everything is resolved now and I am ready to hit the ground running”.
- Furthering my Education
No one can fault someone for furthering their knowledge and value, so just treat this like another job and put a notation that you were pursuing a XX degree/certification.
Using these simple tips and presenting a positive attitude about your readiness can dramatically improve your job search results.