Kai Dickerson
Community Specialist
Posted December 3, 2020

How to explain a gap on your resume

Tactical ways to address gaps in your work history on your resume.
Kai Dickerson
Community Specialist
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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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Kai Dickerson
Community Specialist
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Comments

Ajay A.

How often are functional resumes used? During my job searches (while being employed and unemployed) I very, very rarely come across advice or advocacy for such types of resumes. Are they not accepted as much as the chronological versions?

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Shayna Resnick

Thank you for sharing

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Rafael sanchez

Thank for helping me

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