How to Explain Gaps on Your Resume

It’s normal to have gaps on your resume between jobs. People lose their jobs, have health problems, go traveling, or simply decide to quit their job. Gaps in your employment history are nothing to be ashamed of.

At the same time, if you have gaps on your resume employers will want to know why. It’s natural for prospective employers to ask difficult questions.

This isn’t a problem. Job candidates get into difficult situations when they’re unprepared. As long as you’re ready for the question, you can give a considered answer which will satisfy the interviewer.

If your resume has multiple gaps, this can be harder, but not impossible, to explain. There are also resume formats which draw less attention to resume gaps. For example, functional resumes emphasize your skill set rather than your work experience.

Should you mention employment gaps on your resume?

First of all, it’s worth considering whether you need to include the gap on your resume. You’re not obliged to include your entire employment history.

If you’ve been working for many years there’s no need to include positions from more than 10-15 years ago. This means that if the gap was long enough ago there’s no need to mention it.

If the gap was in the last 5 years it is more difficult to conceal. The last thing you want to do is lie to a potential employer as it will probably come back to bite you.

How to explain gaps in employment during a job interview

Explaining gaps in employment can be tricky. However, with the right approach and preparation, you can give a confident, honest answer which will convince the interviewer. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

explaining-gaps-in-your employment

Be positive

Always talk enthusiastically about past positions. If you left a job, avoid criticizing past colleague or bosses as this can give the impression that you’re difficult to work with. Similarly, when talking about the gap on your resume, focus on the constructive aspects. Focus on any projects, freelance work, traveling, or hobbies you’ve spent time on. Employers want positive workers. If you can avoid negativity during difficult questions it will give a fantastic impression.

Be honest

There are good reasons for gaps in employment and you’ve got yours. Don’t tell lies about why there’s a gap on your resume as the employer will probably see straight through them. Secondly, even if the employer believes you it could come back to hurt you in the future. The truth is, if you’re positive and honest about why there’s a gap on your resume, you’ll come across well.

Be prepared

If you haven’t prepared an answer it will be immediately obvious to the interviewer. Stuttering and stammering, while you rack your brains for an answer, is exactly what you want to avoid. This gives the impression that you’re hiding something or, at best, that you’re badly prepared for the interview. Anticipating the interview questions, and preparing answers is key to a successful interview.

Be confident

Practice answering questions about why you’ve got a gap on your resume. Ask a friend or family member to give you a mock interview. Remember that gaps in employment happen. Life happens. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed about the gaps so confidently explain why they’re there. If you struggle with nerves, read this guide on how to not be nervous in a job interview.

How to fill in employment gaps on your resume

There’s nothing wrong with having a gap in your employment history. However, a resume with multiple gaps can give the impression you’re not a serious candidate. Here are some tips on how to write a resume and take emphasis away from the gaps.

Focus on what you did

Fill the gap with what you were doing during the gap. If you went traveling or took time to focus on a personal project, you can include this.

Only use years as the dates

By not including months when listing dates on your resume you can close small gaps. Employer’s may not ask you for more specific dates but be ready if they do and be honest.

Change the resume format

There are numerous different types of resumes. Chronological resumes draw attention to to your work experience which will highlight any gaps. Functional resume templates focus on your skills. Using a resume builder is an effective way of quickly producing professional-looking results.