How to Address Your Resume Gaps

A resume gap is a space of time between positions during which you were unemployed, traveling, on a sabbatical, or on leave.

Here’s the thing: resume gaps, even if they can be justified, sometimes concern employers. They cause people ego question what you were doing during that time, or worse, if it’s for an extended period they may become worried that you’re out of touch with what’s happening in your industry.

But, I want you to remember that all resume gaps can be overcome and are rarely¬†long enough to jeopardize your career. Here’s how you can address your gaps right now:

1. Be transparent

Employers value transparency in employees. So, if you were let go from your previous role, your status on your resume should change¬†immediately from Date – Present to Date – Date. It’s not appropriate to keep saying that you work at a place you don’t, even if it’s only been a few weeks since you left. Employers get it – the job market is tough. Many people have resume gaps, and having a short one won’t lose you a new opportunity.

2. Specify what you were doing during this time

This goes hand in hand with being transparent, and I recommend doing it for all gaps over a month. Once you’re unemployed for that stretch of time, your hiring manager will want to know what you’ve been doing. If you’ve been unemployed for more than a month, now is your chance to convey that you’re high-potential talent who was just a victim of bad luck during company restructuring or other related issues outside of your control.

For example, a great way to demonstrate that you weren’t a couch potato during your job search is to discuss your volunteer and community work, conferences you’ve been to through professional associations, or pro bono work you’ve done. The same goes for if you went traveling and want to draw attention to your global experience.

What if you were unemployed for over a year?

If you were unemployed for over a year, your resume gap will be worrying. That’s okay. But, don’t rely on employers’ busy schedules to justify why they might not see it. They will eventually find out, and now is the best time to make them aware of your status.

If you’ve been gone for over a year and were on a sabbatical, maternity leave, or went back to school, I highly recommend including a line in your resume that says: (Went back to school – see Education section) or a simple (Sabbatical for family reasons).

Do you have any questions about addressing your resume gaps? Let me know in the comments section!

8 thoughts on “How to Address Your Resume Gaps”

  1. Pertaining to showing the gap in employment. I resigned from a great full time job in April 2014 because the commute was taking it’s toll and I wanted to spend the summer with my family. During that time I was also helping out my father in a renovation business as a designer, but not full time. So, how and where do I explain that on my CV?

  2. Hi Neil,

    Great question! You could explain this in your CV in a single line highlighting that you were taking a brief sabbatical.


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