How to explain a gap on your resume

Last updated: June 16, 2024
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Kai Dickerson
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How to explain a gap on your resume
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A gap in employment is a way to discuss new skills

Be prepared to explain any gaps in employment that lasted from several months to a few years. Regardless of the reason for the gap — illness or injury, lay off, furlough, caring for a relative, a termination — it’s important to be upfront and use it to your advantage.

Frame your time away from the workforce as time you spent on improving yourself. Did you manage a nursing schedule while caring for a relative? Perhaps you took an online course while injured? No doubt you learned new skills during that time that could help with the new job.

How you present this on your resume may help you to get hired - and prepares you for the interview. The most important thing is to be honest.

Strategies to address employment gaps on your resume

Identify skills you've developed outside of work

View employment gaps as time spent practicing important skills — this time spent can be referred to as a job. For example, list the time you cared for a relative as a job, and outline the skills you developed – just like it was a paying job. Weave this time into your resume together with your "regular" employment history.

Consider the responsibilities you’ve taken on in your life and extract the marketable skills:
PTA volunteer, church work team, community organizer, phone bank volunteer, family will executor.

Functional resume

Write a functional resume, rather than a chronological resume. Focus on relevant experience, instead of the order of employment history. Your resume would then group experience -- regardless of when you gained that experience – that address the specific skills for the job you are applying to. Within the groups, list jobs from most recent to oldest.

Experience groupings could read like this:

Customer Service
Possible skills to highlight: clear communication, phone skills, food service, concierge -- all skills used in various volunteer duties

Event Manager
Possible skills to highlight: vendor management, contract negotiations and payments, volunteer coordinator, scheduler -- responsibilities taken on while organizing events like fundraisers and dinners for community groups

Operations Manager
Possible skills to highlight: kitchen/laundry/paint/warehouse crew manager, shift manager -- leadership roles assumed during projects at churches, schools, prisons

  • List job and experience dates as years only, instead of month and year. For example, if you were cashier at a store from February to June 2018, just list it as 2018

A carefully written resume that candidly addresses gaps in employment shows potential employers that you’re upfront and employable. Use these strategies to use that time to your advantage and land that next job.

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Uk State
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hello

31w
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Amber Alvarado
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I have a gap this article is very informative. Thx

39w
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Pete Vargas
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Was a wine tech for a various well known wine vendors and wineries. Tolosa, Minduvei, and Barefoot are just a few to name. We received fruit processed and fermintated some of the best tasting blends through out the central coast. It was truly a learning of and way of life, that enhanced the culture of the different wines and their makers.

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Steven Bernard
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Machine Operator at Hers Potato Chip Factory

Osha certified train the trainer program Train people to operate heavy machinery in a warehouse

1y
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Jeffrey Abrams
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Easy going eager to offer help and achieve customer Satisfaction for Customers

I quit a job because of a hostile work environment

1y
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Linda Turnage
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I'm a people person, someone who likes to do for others and let them know I care about how they feel

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JOHANNA ORTIZ GONZALEZ
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Thank you so much for sharing this important information!

2y
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michelle pribila
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I relocated so that definitely helped the only problem most of my long term 15yr and 12yr jobs were where I was before now I have all these 1yr or 6mo jobs because of things not working out or covid or shut downs, it doesn't look good with my age I look incompetent.

2y
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Syed Sharafat Hussain Naqvi
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𝙄 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙮 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙚𝙣𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙘𝙚 𝙝𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙚𝙨𝙩 𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙨

Thanks Much For Educating me as well as many others

2y
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Molly Mincy
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Thank you. I have a gap. This helped me.

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