Add A Career Break Placeholder On Your Resume
It might be helpful to add a new entry in your professional experience section: Career Break. By addressing the gap directly on your resume, youre helping both the applicant tracking systems and people reading your resume understand why you have a gap.
To do this, youd add your career break just like any other job, with the job title as Career Break, Planned Career Break, or Professionally Active Career Break, and the dates it occurred.
Weve created a PDF with sample Career Break sections for your resume so you can see what this might look like in practice.
Furthermore, one study compared job applicants who disclosed a reason for their work gap to those who did not. It found that candidates who provided reasoning for their work gap on their resume and cover letter received 60% more interviews than those who did not give a reason at all.
Career Gap Resume Example
If you have a gap in your resume, below is an example of how this can be formatted.
If You Were Let Go Unexpectedly From A Job
This is often one of the most awkward of employment gaps to explain away, but your best option is to simply be upfront with the interviewer. This is your chance to frame the discussion around the event, so put that opportunity to good use.
If you were let go because of reasons that were outside of your control explain those considerations to your interviewer, but be careful not to provide too many details, which could be a cause for concern for a potential employer.
Show The Employment Gap On Your Resume In Your Experience Section
Where should you put resume gaps?
The right place to show an employment gap on a resume is in your work history.
List it as a sabbatical, and show three things:
- Worked with teams to cut costs.
- Facilitated integration of customer software into our workflow.
You were up-front about your gap.
You also showed the leadership skill they wantin the employment gap on your resume!
You proved other skills in your work history. You customized your resume.
Think theyll hold that gap against you? Nope.
Expert Hint: Put other sections in your resume with skills the job wants. Certifications or conferences you spoke at can help outweigh employment gaps on resumes.
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Final Thoughts On Career Gaps
Remember, whatever your career break entailed, its all relative.
A few months out a couple of years ago will probably be ok. However, if youre talking years out of employment, then planning is key.
Its not unusual to have a gap in your employment history and itll only stand out if you dont explain it. The main thing employers want is for you to demonstrate your enthusiasm and readiness to re-enter the workforce.
Finally, confidence and honesty are desirable qualities for any interviewee. Approaching the situation with the right degree of both will speak volumes about your personality.
So be honest and always attempt to address the issue early, allowing the recruiter to concentrate on the rest of your CV. That way, youll have nothing to worry about.
Note: These Tips And Sample Explanations Will Also Work On Job Applications
Sometimes a job application will say, please explain any gaps in employment.
The advice resume advice above also work for job applications. Follow the same rules, be clear and upfront, and youll be fine when applying for jobs.
The one adjustment Id recommend making on job applications : Be clear and direct, but dont give too much information. The only goal of your job application is to get you into the interview.
If theyre concerned about employment gaps, they can ask more in the interview. And thats where you should be very honest/open and explain things further. Thats where you can gauge their reactions, decide how much to share based on their responses, etc. You cant do this in a written explanation.
So, by writing too much info on a job application, you might do more harm than good. Its better to discuss this type of thing in person, so limit your explanation to 1-2 sentences for each gap in employment on your job applications, cover letters, etc.
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Employment Gaps On Resume Format
- Use a single-page resume with one-inch margins.
- Write with Didot, Cambria, or another trusted resume font in 1012pt.
- Make resume sections like Heading, Summary, Experience, Education, and Skills.
- Add white space to let it breathe.
- Save PDF copies. PDF resumes travel well to different employers.
Expert Hint: You can also try a functional resume or combination resume to spotlight your skills and not your history. Bewaresome recruiters dont like functional resumes.
Group Temporary And Self
Some people take on temp jobs and contract work to make ends meet after a layoff. Others simply prefer the gig economy so they can have the flexibility to pursue other interests. This type of employment history can look a little awkward on a resume, however, especially if you have a handful of temporary jobs at one time.
If you were a contractor, or if you did these jobs on contract, you may be able to qualify all of this time as being self-employed. Doing this will give you one steady explanation of that timeframe .
Employers rarely look down on someone who started their own business, even if it failed in the first year. Failed businesses happen often and as long as youre prepared to explain it honestly in the interview, this isnt a deal-breaker for most hiring managers.
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When Are Resume Gaps Not A Big Deal
Most resume gaps are unlikely to be a problem. In particular:
If its shortEmployment gaps of less than six months arent likely to even stand out. Six months is a fairly normal timeframe for a job search, so you may not even need to explain a shorter gap.
If its recentHiring managers arent living in a bubble they know people are struggling right now. If you were laid off, furloughed, or had trouble finding work over the past year, no reasonable employer is going to hold that against you.
If its a one-time occurrenceIf you only have a single gap on your resume, its unlikely to raise red flags the same way a series of gaps might. Like anything else on your resume, context matters if you have a single gap on your resume that youre able to explain, most employers wont care.
If theres a good reasonWhat is a good reason for an employment gap? Basically, anything non-work-related. If youve relocated, had a baby, or taken time off for a family or health emergency, those are all good reasons that have nothing to do with your work performance. A career change could be another good reason, especially if you’ve used that time to go back to school or update your skill set.
Include A Note In Your Resume About Your Job Loss Due To Covid
To ensure hiring managers understand that your employment gap is a direct result of COVID-19, you may want to include a brief blurb on your resume or cover letter explaining this. Doing so may help potential employers quickly see why you are out of a job and may also prevent hiring managers from dismissing your resume due to an employment gap.
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How To Explain Employment History Gaps Due To Travelling
If the gap you have to explain is due to a break you took to go travelling, it should be easy for you to spin this positively. Many employers will appreciate the fact that youve travelled before you apply for a role in their organisation. It shows a sense of independence, personal development and cultural awareness, plus new perspectives that you can apply to the role, so focus on these benefits.
When Is An Unemployment Gap Too Long
There is no exact answer to this question, as everybody’s situation is different. The biggest hurdle to overcome with employment gaps is explaining them to the employer in an effective way. You need to show that your time off was either a necessity or helped expand your knowledge in some way.
If possible, you should reassure your future employer that it is unlikely to happen again.
Here is what career expert Alison Green says regarding the length of unemployment:
“…itâs not the gap itself thatâs an issue. Itâs just that it raises a question of whether there could be something concerning behind it. When you can demonstrate that there isnât, itâs a non-issue.
As for length, itâs very unlikely that youâll ever even be asked about a gap of a few months or less. In general, gaps donât become a question for employers until theyâre five or six months or longer, and they donât become potential red flags until theyâre longer than that.”
For more information on the length of an employment gap, we have a related post devoted to the subject: How Long is too Long Of An Employment Gap?
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Emphasize Why Now’s The Time
If you stepped away from your career without a concise timeline tied to your reasoning, explain why you’re choosing to re-enter the workforce now instead of, say, a year from now.
Again, be concise and don’t feel like you have to justify your decision. Simply let the hiring manager know that you’ve done what you needed to do during your time off and now you’re ready and raring to get back to work.
Communicate How You Intentionally Developed Skills During Your Employment Gap
Did you go to any professional classes or conferences? Have you learned a new skill or spent time training for a different career? These are all great skill-building activities that should be included when writing your resume.
Employment gaps are great opportunities to fill skills gaps. And recruiters like to see applicants that are constantly and intentionally learning their trade. Thats a signal of a passionate and knowledgeable candidate.
This can include volunteer work, too. If you spent some of your downtime pitching in at a local food bank, or coordinating a charity run, you can and should include it on your resume, along with the skills you learned.
If youre currently experiencing a gap in employment, consider taking an online course or check out these free certifications to add to your resume.
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What About A Functional Resume
Many hiring professionals say they prefer chronological resumes to functional resumes. They are often suspicious of functional resumes, which are usually used to hide something. Select a functional format only if you have an extremely poor work background with extended gaps or a terrible history of job-hopping.
Some job seekers try to hide their spotty work histories by submitting a resume cover letter in lieu of a resume. This type of letter covers the key points of a resume in narrative format, but skips over any sketchy parts of the work history. This approach is normally not recommended, because ultimately employers will be looking for the resume.
Tips For Managing Gaps In Your Resume Due To Mental Illness
- 5 minute read
If you live with mental illness, there may be gaps in your resume where you had to take time off work. Sometimes those gaps can be months or even years long. Now youre on the mend, and youre looking to re-enter the job market. Youre worried though that those gaps will count against you.
Fortunately you can write a resume or cover letter that is honest about your gaps but still presents you in a positive light. Heres how:
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What Questions Do They Raise
When employers see a resume gap, heres what they might be wondering:
- Were you fired?
- Did you quit on a whim or with no warning?
- Did you leave without another job lined up?
- Have you left one or more jobs off your resume?
- If any of these were true, why?
Here’s a list of common questions recruiters have about employment gaps. These all basically boil down to one thing: Is there a gap on your resume because youre trying to hide something? If not, you have nothing to worry about.
Be Honest From The Start
You might be hoping that your potential employer simply wont notice the career gaps in your resume. But chances are, it wont escape the eagle-eyed hiring manager or recruiter.
A resume that has small unexplained gaps or just one large one may raise alarm bells for employers, and they often wont have time to find out more information if you dont give it to them.
Theres a high chance that the employer will reject your application straight away, advises George.
You might be tempted to alter the dates and extend the years and months of employment a little to cover the gaps. But theres a good chance the truth will come up during the reference check, anyway.
Dont try to cover up your career gap or pretend it didnt happen, George says. Be honest about career gaps from the start of the hiring process. Being open from the beginning and explaining your career break will show your honesty, which should work in your favour.
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How To Explain Employment Gaps Due To Covid
As of April, more than 20.6 million jobs have been lost in the US as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemicmore than double the Great Depression and unprecedented in terms of unemployment rates in the United States. If you’ve lost your job due to COVID-19, you may be wondering how you’ll explain this employment gap to potential employers. In this article, we discuss what an employment gap is and how you can address employment gaps to hiring managers when you start your next job search.
Related: How to Use Indeed to Job Search During COVID-19
Sample Cover Letter Explaining Parental Leave
In this situation, you should mention that you took time off to care for a child but also mention something productive you did that would help your career. This could be taking additional courses or studying a relevant subject. You can even add relevant interests and activities from your time off.
âAfter a successful nine-year career as a computer programmer for XYZ Corp., I took maternity leave, and then completed my bachelorâs degree in business management. During that period, I have been preparing for the next step in my career development by developing the exact set of skills that your company is presently seeking.â
Here are some more useful cover letter tips for maternity leave.
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How To Explain Gaps In Employment As A Sellable Attribute
Once you know how to mention a career gap in your resume, you can turn what many see as a negative into a marketable attribute.
Explaining Gaps in Employment as a Positive
Arrive to your interview prepared with some awesome talking points about the upside to your employment gap. Explanations for a work history with breaks dont have to be elaborate. They just have to be honest. We love this article from the Muse with tips for using an employment gap to make you more marketable, instead of less.
Focus on Skills, Not Jobs
How do you explain a gap in employment? Maybe you dont. Maybe you just focus on all youve learned as a result of the factors that required you to take a break from work in the first place.
Military life helps you develop some seriously marketable skills. Every military moment prepares you for work in ways that civilians cant easily comprehend. So, during your interview, play up the skills required to make it as a military family.
- Adaptability Moving every few years makes you nothing if not able to adapt to change, and quickly.
- Problem solving You probably havent gone through a military move without at least one major catastrophe. And you make it through each one using your specially honed critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Dependability If a military-connected employee says theyll do something, you might as well consider it done.
Five Tips To Explain Gaps In Your Cv
Firstly, you dont need to include all of your experience on your CV.
If you have a long career history, and have held a number of different positions, theres nothing wrong with scaling back the detail which could be an easy way to take care of a few gaps.
Similarly, when stating the dates of your employment on your CV, omitting the month and only showing the year is perfectly acceptable. The same goes for your reasons for leaving your previous positions. This keeps your CV to the point, and helps keep gaps to a minimum.
Additionally, if you do have a significant gap in your employment history, there may be better places to address them than in the middle of your CV.
Your cover letter, for example, can be used to elaborate on the gap and to suggest why you view this position as the perfect way to get back into work.
Remember: Some gaps can be addressed simply through formatting.
The single most important thing to remember when dealing with a gap in your CV is that, whatever your reason for taking a break from employment, honesty is always the best policy.
You dont have to go into everything in detail , but leaving it out completely or lying about the reason will only make the gaps stand out further.
Additionally, never be tempted to extend your period of employment in a previous position just to cover up the gaps. There is every chance that the interviewer will call your previous employers to verify your time there.
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