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Employment gap that is less than 6 months is not a problem. This is especially the case if it happened in 2008 or any other economically challenging times that caused a lot of people to lose their jobs due to downsizing.

You can expect any of the employment gaps that are less than two months to go unnoticed. They are not a problem.

However, any type of employment gap that needs to be addressed is a gap longer than 6 months.

The reason behind this is the fact that you need to prove to the recruiter that you are a reliable person who can hold down a job and that hiring you will pay off.

If you have spent a year doing nothing or nobody would even hire you, that is a big red flag on your resume.

If you list some of the understandable reasons why you have not been working on your career, it will not cost you your future work. Here are some of the justified reasons to be out of work for a prolonged period of time:

  • taking the time off to raise your child
  • taking care of a family member
  • going back to school
  • taking time to do professional retraining
  • trying to launch your own business
  • dealing with medical issues

For your resume to be convincing and successful, it is not enough for the reason to be justified. It should be well-explained.

There are a couple of ways you can make the most of your employment gap and put a positive spin to it.

More precisely, let’s start with the four most important tips on how to go about this situation and then move on to some practical examples.

Tips to Follow When Addressing Employment Gap in Your Resume

Don’t afraid that your resume gap will ruin your chances to land a job. If you address it well enough and you make sure it makes you look good, it will all work out.

You need to own it and be confident about it. If there is nothing to hide, there is nothing to be afraid of.

After all, if your recruiter needs more details about your employment gap, they will ask you during your interview.

However, for the time being, let’s deal with the thing that precedes your interview – your resume. Here are the most important elements of addressing your employment gap.

1 .Be Honest

Don’t try to hush up your employment gap. The most common way people try to do this is by listing only the years and not the months when you started and finished your job engagements. 

This just raises some suspicions, so don’t do it.

Another way people try to make up for their employment gap is to straightforward lie. This is never a good idea.

Firstly, your recruiter will definitely notice it. They are skilled and smart and their job is to review thousands of applications.

In a year or two on the job, they have already seen every trick in the book and they can spot it right away. Therefore, honesty is the best policy when it comes you your employment gap.

2. Be Concise

Being honest doesn’t mean that you should go on and explain every little detail about your employment gap. You don’t have to write an entire essay about it.

It is enough to list just the most general information about your absence. How long is long enough? You should aim for two lines maximum.

Otherwise, if you start writing too much, you are in danger of oversharing. Writing too much about your employment gap takes up a lot of space, which can be used in a much better way in your resume.

Rather than listing all the details about your gap, use that space to list more about your achievements and experiences.

3. Provide the Solution for the Situation

If you are just to state the reason for your employment gap, you won’t need more than a line. You need that other line to state how this situation is taken care of and that it is all solved.

In that way, you will put your recruiter’s mind to ease as they can see you are not in danger of sliding back into taking prolonged breaks from your job.

How to do this greatly depends on the nature of your gap. For example, if you put a pause on your career due to some illness, you should state how you managed to put it under control.

If your pause is due to having a baby, briefly explain that you have found a kindergarten or a nanny that will take care of your child.

In other words, if you provide a good and solid solution to the issue that caused you to stay unemployed, your employment gap stops being an issue altogether.

4. List Benefits from Your Time Off

Your time off doesn’t have to be just justified. It can be straightforward useful. This is the case if you have used your time off for education in any way.

Education can mean going back to school, but it can also mean taking different courses, changing your profession or participating in different kinds of training. Benefits from these endeavors can look stellar on your resume.

Even if your time off has been used to just take a break and regroup your thoughts, you could have done something worthwhile.

If you have been active in some community groups, you might have gained some managerial or organizational skills. During your year off traveling, you might have mastered a foreign language.

Now you have a general idea about how we could explain the reason why you were off work for a prolonged period of time. However, it is always easier to learn when you see some examples.

Therefore, let’s dig and analyze some of the sentences that are used as justifications for the employment gap.

Examples of Excellent Employment Gap Explanations

Here are some practical examples of how people explain their employment gaps. These are not examples of the best practice, but examples of the usual ways people try to justify their time off work.

Let’s look at them and try to rewrite them so they match the four tips about the proper way to address the employment gap in a resume.

Don’t write: “I had to resign because my sick relative moved in with me.”

Write: “I took a year off to take care of my sick relative. Since then, their health has been restored.”

Don’t write: “I felt the need to travel, so I quit my job and spent a year backpacking.”

Write: “I spent an entire year immersing myself in different cultures and learning foreign languages. I am not proficient in German and Spanish and ready to give my best at work.”

Don’t write: “I have a chronic illness that makes it challenging for me to keep up with the demands of a workplace.”

Write: “It took me a year to find the best and the most efficient way to manage my chronic medical issues, so I can return to a workplace without problems.”

Don’t write: “The previous company I worked for had to fire at least 30% of their workforce due to downsizing. I spent only 6 months in that company up to that point, so I was a logical choice to be one of the people who were let go. However, during my time there, I had decent results and I was praised for my work on several occasions. Ever since then, I struggled to hold down a job.”

Write: “I was let go due to company downsizing and the last-come-first-to-go policy. After that, I was looking exclusively for a position that would allow me to utilize my skills to manage a small team of people.”

Even if you have taken a year off just to recuperate and think about where your life is going, it doesn’t mean that you should write your resume as a desperate person.

You should always hint that you are looking for a job that is a good fit for you and that you know your worth.

While the employment gap can be suspicious to some, if you have a solid explanation for it, you have equal chances on the job market, just like everybody else.

  Credit: freepik by yanalya

I'm Katrina McKinnon, founder of McKinnon Group and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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