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New York Times published an article that states 2.6 million jobs were lost in the USA during the big crisis of 2008. Do you think all those people immediately found a new job? Of course not.

The times were tough and the job market was lacking in new positions while there was a surplus of unemployed people looking for work.

The entire country, and the world even, are aware of this situation. Therefore, you can count on the fact that recruiters will not be overly harsh if it turns out you have a reasonably brief employment gap during that period.

However, there are other types of employment gaps that cannot be blamed on the general world economy. As long as you have a good explanation for those, you don’t have to worry that they will make you look too bad on your resume.

Why Do You Explain Employment Gaps?

Since recruiters should have understanding for those that have lost their jobs due to economic breakdown, company downsizing and similar situations that are out of the hands of everyday employees, why explaining the employment gap, anyway?

The reason is simple – it is not cheap to hire a person. Wrong choices cost a lot of money and time that companies simply don’t have. What does it have to do with employment gaps?

Sometimes, they are indicators of poor work ethics, inability to hold down a job or even laziness. Your recruiter has only your resume and the interview to conclude whether you are worth their time and money investments.

That is why your employment gap needs to be explained well. Here are a couple of ways to do so. 

How to Explain Your Employment Gap?

There are two options when it comes to explaining your employment gap: you can do it directly in your resume, or you can make it a part of your cover letter. Both of these options have their pros and cons.

Explaining your employment gap in your resume will give your recruiter a direct and immediate response to what it is all about as soon as they spot the gap. This is not possible if you are putting it in your cover letter.

There is a chance that your recruiter won’t read the letter or that they don’t make the connection between those two.

On the other hand, your employment gap explanation letter is a good idea because you get more space to explain exactly what happened and how you managed it.

This means that you will be left with more space in your resume to actually list the achievements and responsibilities you had on your previous positions.

Of course, there is a good way and a bad way to explain your employment gap, regardless of the fact whether you are using your resume or an explanation letter. Here are several things that you definitely should NOT do:

  • Don’t lie about your resume gap
  • Don’t over explain it
  • Don’t make it seem like you are about to do it again
  • Don’t be negative about it

After all, you most probably have a good reason why you have this gap in your resume.

In many cases, people have done some pretty interesting things during that time and even gained some important skills and experiences that can be utilized in their new job.

There are several reasons why people hit pause on their careers and here are those that recruiter observe with a lot of understanding:

  • Medical issues
  • Medical issues within a family
  • Pregnancy and raising a child
  • Education in any form
  • Extensive traveling that comes with some gained skills

Even though these are all excellent reasons, they are still reasons for an employment gap. That is why you should do your best to turn the tables and make them work for you. This is best explained in examples.

Employment Gap Explanation Letter Examples

If you are choosing to write an employment gap explanation letter, you should definitely keep a couple of things in mind. Firstly, you should state the reason for your pause clearly.

Secondly, you should add a phrase or two about how that issue is resolved and prove that it is not likely it will happen in the future again.

Also, if it is possible, you should try and list all the new skills and experiences you gained during that time. For example, a year of traveling can make you proficient in a foreign language.

Medical Issues

There are two types of medical issues that can cause you to press pause on your career. The first type is issues that are temporary and need time to heal and the second ones are those issues that are here to stay.

For the first type of issues, you just need to mention that they are over and that you are well.

The second type of medical issues is those that involve chronicle issues that are here to stay. You can simply state that you have found the way to manage them successfully.

The law forbids employers to discriminate based on your medical issues and history. You cannot be required to pass medical exams unless all other applicants are required to pass them.

Here is an example of writing that you can use to explain your prolonged leave due to medical causes.

In the period from June 2017 to May 2018, I had to take some time to recuperate from a newly discovered medical issue. The issue is now under control and I have spent the entire year learning how to manage it, so it doesn’t get in the way of my daily activities. 

Medical issues within a family

This is another situation in which you need to explain why you haven’t been able to dedicate yourself to your career. Again, you need to demonstrate that the situation is under control and that it will not influence your ability to perform at work. Here is an example.

I decided to take the time off from June 2017 up to July 2017 due to serious medical conditions that affected my mother. Her health is now fully restored and she is capable of living independently again.

Pregnancy and raising a child

This is one of the most common reasons why female workers take some time off from their career. Some of them decide that they want to dedicate themselves completely to their child and press pause on the career button.

This explanation is all about stating the reason for the absence and ensuring the future employers you are ready to get back in the saddle.

I decided to take the time off from June 2016 all up to July 2017 to carry out my pregnancy and dedicate myself to the raising of my child entirely. Since then, I have established a good and daily schedule and I am ready to give my best on my next position.

Education in any form

Sometimes, people want to advance in their careers or simply switch the industry. For that to happen, some sort of training is needed.

For many, working and going back to school is too much. That is why people decide to take a break from work and dedicate their entire time studying.

At times, this is can mean going back to college. Other times, it is all about taking a set of courses that equip you with the practical knowledge needed for your next career. Here is how you can cover this reason in your resume:

The period between June 2017 and July 2018 is the time I took to get some training and experience in Copywriting. I have completed several courses and built a solid portfolio of pieces that increased traffic to my clients up to 20%.

Besides these reasons, it is also possible to explain your gap with an attempt to do some freelance work, start your own company or even spend the time traveling. As you can see, the idea remains the same.

It is all about addressing the gap, explaining how the circumstances have changed since then and even list some benefits that came from taking the time off.

In other words – use your employment gap explanation letter as another chance to display your achievements and experiences.

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Katrina McKinnon

I'm Katrina McKinnon, the author behind Small Revolution. With two decades of hands-on experience in online work, running eCommerce stores, web agency and job boards, I'm now on a mission to empower you to work from home and achieve work-life balance. My passion lies in crafting insightful, education content. I have taught thousands of students and employees how to write, do SEO, manage eCommerce stores and work as Virtual Assistants. Join our most popular course: SEO Article Masterclass

1 Comment

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