Career Gap: How to Explain a Career Gap

Recruiters and hiring managers frequently create their first impressions of you based on your resume. It’s critical to effectively address career gaps in your resume so they don’t negatively impact people’s perception of you.

Knowing how to use work gaps as a positive on your resume will help you build a strong experience section. 

We cover everything you need to know about explaining gaps in your career history in this post, including where to explain gaps in your employment history and a list of good reasons.

Make sure you read this post carefully, as it’ll be beneficial.

Explaining gaps in employment can be intimidating, but you can use a couple of effective methods. Before that, let’s look at what a career gap means.

What Are Career Gaps?

Career gaps are periods in your professional career when you haven’t had a formal job. A career gap can last anywhere from a few months to several years and be deliberately or unwillingly created.

A career gap is a period of unemployment or transition between jobs. This could be a decision to take a work sabbatical for personal reasons, such as vacation or starting a family. Or they could have forced it upon you because of redundancy or a change in personal circumstances.

The crucial thing to remember is that there is no such thing as an insurmountable career gap. When searching for a new job and communicating the gap, you must know how to handle it.

If you don’t explain the reason for your absence in employment and the experience you earned during that period, career gaps on a resume can be a source of concern.

Having a Career Gap in 2023

Having a job gap is far more frequent than you might imagine. In fact, taking time off work willingly is becoming increasingly fashionable.

Whether you choose to take a professional break on your own or had one forced upon you for reasons beyond your control, you are not alone – and there’s no need to regard it like a gaping hole that needs to be filled in and explained away.

As a result of today’s exceptional economic conditions, more people than ever may face career gaps. The events of 2020 have sent shockwaves through practically every area of the work market, leaving many people in precarious employment positions through no fault of their own. In many cases, the circumstance has resulted in new chances.

The larger issue is that the traditional nonstop, one-track profession has been fading for quite some time. People are taking a more fluid attitude to work, dipping in and out of jobs to make time for travel, personal development, and lifestyle changes.

As the advantages of taking a professional break become more widely recognized, the stigmas associated with it are steadily dissipating.

At this point, it won’t be a bad idea to change your career. See these 15 Signs It’s Time For A Career Change In 2023

What Are Common Reasons for a Career Gap?

Millions of individuals lost their jobs due to the global coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Some industries are exhibiting indications of revival, as seen by job vacancies, which is a bit of a bright light.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment fell to 6% in March 2021. However, it was higher than the level recorded in February 2020, before the pandemic. COVID-19 is well recognized as a cause of unemployment and inability to find work afterward, yet companies will still inquire about the circumstances.

To construct your career gap explanation, you must first determine the cause. Here are some of the most prevalent reasons for a job gap:

  • Obtaining a degree
  • Taking care of a family member
  • Getting married or starting a family
  • Starting a company
  • Looking for greater chances, advantages, or a firm that matches one’s aims and beliefs
  • Relocating/Travelling
  • Taking a medical leave of absence
  • Looking for a job that is closer to home or offers more flexibility?
  • If you’ve been laid off and are having trouble finding a job.
  • Reasons of personal nature

You can also read How to Write a Career Change Resume Objective

How to Explain Career Gaps on Your Resume

1. Make The Most of Your Unemployment by Planning to Return to Work.

The first step in explaining employment gaps on your resume is to use the time you are unemployed to prepare for a return to work.

They can accomplish this by using this time for professional development activities such as gaining industry-specific certifications, completing continuing education courses, participating in professional associations, and conducting volunteer or contract work.

This will provide you with favorable experiences that you may use to fill in employment gaps on your CV.

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2. Make a List of The Professions You’ll Need to Include.

The next step is to decide whether they should disclose the employment gap in your resume. It is not always necessary to list your previous jobs on your CV.

It may not be necessary to include your job before your hiatus in work if you are a professional with several years of experience and your employment gap occurred early in your career.

In general, the employment part of your resume should only contain your most recent and relevant work experiences. You can establish which work gaps you must explain once you’ve determined which occupations to put in your resume.

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3. By Skipping The Month, You Might Try to Hide Small Gaps.

Next, if the gaps in your employment history are merely minor gaps between jobs, you can hide them by missing the month from each experience’s date. Instead, list the years you worked in each position.

However, this strategy of hiding employment gaps on your resume usually only works if the gaps you’re trying to hide are less than a year-long and you worked in each position for at least a year.

For example, if you worked in one job from August 2015 to January 2017 and didn’t start your next job until August 2017, you can hide your employment gap by listing your first job’s dates as 2015 – 2017 and your second job’s dates as 2017 – Present.

While this may help you get beyond the first round of resume assessment, they will certainly ask you about particular dates during an interview, so be prepared to explain the reason for your break in a favorable light.

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4. Use a Resume Style or Structure That Minimizes The Gap.

Next, you can use a resume style or structure like the functional resume format to make employment gaps appear less evident. A functional resume format emphasizes your abilities and accomplishments rather than your work history.

To help make the positive experiences you have the primary focus of your resume, incorporate sections such as a career summary statement and important accomplishments on your resume.

Then, near the end of your CV, insert your employment section. Combine the functional resume approach with step three to reduce the impact of small employment gaps.

This guide on How to Write Skills on a Resume in 2023 | Easy Steps that Work will greatly help when setting up your resume.

5. Make a Separate Job Out of The Rationale For The Longer Employment Absences.

Longer periods of unemployment will normally necessitate a more direct approach in your resume than short periods of unemployment.

If you have a job gap longer than a year, it will appear on your resume even if you merely include the years or use a functional structure. You can get around this by listing what you did during your work gap in your experience section as if it were a job.

However, keep the entry concise so that the individual reading your resume is not distracted from more relevant experience. For example, if you stayed at home with your child for four years until he or she was ready for preschool, you can mention that period in your experience area.

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6. When Applicable, Provide Experience Gained During The Interval.

It may be helpful to provide more specific information in your employment gap entry if you can tie the experience you earned during your job gap to the position you are applying for.

You can provide concrete instances of everyday activities and tasks you had during your work gap that apply to the duties or obligations of the position you are looking for in your cover letter.

Suppose you are looking for a career as a nurse and have a two-year employment gap because you took time off to be a full-time caretaker for an elderly relative. In that case, the employment gap entry in your experience section should clearly express that. It’s an added benefit.

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Where Should Employment Gaps be Explained?

You should know where to explain employment gaps, besides how to explain them. In general, you should address gaps in your employment in three places: your cover letter, your CV, and, if requested, during an interview.

While there are strategies to make employment gaps on your CV appear less noticeable, it is still critical that you be honest and open about any gaps in your career.

Because your cover letter allows you to go into detail about how you used your time jobless to prepare to return to work, it’s a fantastic place to explain significant gaps in employment.

Explaining job gaps in your cover letter and CV informs recruiters and hiring managers that you are trustworthy and honest, which can help you stand out.

Examples of How to Explain Employment Gaps In An Interview

Sample Explanation 1:

“I had to resign from my former job to care for an elderly relative.” This is something I’ve been doing for the past year. My siblings and I have since hired a full-time caregiver, so I am no longer required to be present and can work now and in the future.

So I’ve started looking for a job, hoping to locate a sales supervisor or manager role that can help me improve my career.”

Sample Explanation 2:

“I lost my job nine months ago. I quickly began my job search, and I’m currently looking for sales supervisor or sales manager roles to advance my career. I’ve had several interviews but have yet to find the proper fit.

One of the things I’m looking for is the opportunity to coach and train team members and direct the management of a team. I noticed that in the job description for this position… could you tell me more?”


Make no apologies for your gaps in employment. Companies that despise gaps are unworthy of your time.

Prepare yourself so the recruiting manager understands why you left your prior employment.

We hope you found this post very helpful. Feel free to let us know what you think.


Is it OK to have a career gap?

Gap years are unlikely to affect your job search negatively, regardless of why you took that time off. Still, using that time to upgrade your skills, build your network, or start a business is a good idea. As a positive, most of the skills you acquire can be placed on your resume.

Can a career gap affect my work?

Even if a hiatus wasn’t planned, it shouldn’t impair your capacity to get work in the future. Times have changed, and even if employees do not work every day of their life, they might still be devoted and committed. It should surprise employers if an applicant has a break in work.

What is a Career gap?

A career break is any time you’ve been out of work for an extended period (usually more than three months) for any reason other than redundancy. It can be used for various reasons, including illness, travel, a sabbatical, having children, caring for family, etc.

Can I still get employed after having a 5- year career gap?

Yes, with a 5-year gap after college, you can locate suitable employment. However, you must show that you have a good justification for pausing. Second, you must brush up on your knowledge and increase your talents to be hired effectively.

Are 2-3 months considered a career gap?

It’s normally not considered an employment gap if you go two or three months without working, but rather a job search phase. They extend if that interval to nine or ten months; most employers will consider it a full-fledged job gap.

What do I do after having a career gap?

List your career break as if it were a job in the experience section of your resume. You can just list “personal sabbatical,” “family leave,” or other similar words instead of a job title and company to account for periods when you didn’t have a job.

Identify the time frame in question and describe in one or two sentences what caused the halt in your academic progress. Also, include something you did during that time that could be considered career advancement, such as self-study to promote your education or starting a business.



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