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 address career gaps in your resume effectively so that they don’t negatively impact the perception people have 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 very helpful.

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

What Are Career Gaps?

Career gaps are periods of time 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 it can 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 it comes to searching for a new job and communicating the gap, you just need to 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 2022

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 the creation of new chances.

The larger issue is that the classic 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.

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What Are Common Reasons for a Career Gap?

Millions of individuals lost their jobs as a result of 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, the unemployment rate 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.

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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

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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 your employment gap in your resume. It is not always necessary to list all of your previous jobs on your CV.

It may not be necessary to include the job you had 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 need to explain once you’ve determined which occupations you need 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 that happened between jobs, you can hide them by missing the month from each experience’s date. Instead, just make a list of the years you worked in each position.

This strategy of hiding gaps in employment on your resume, however, 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.

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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. To reduce the impact of small employment gaps, combine the functional resume approach with step three.

This guide on How to Write Skills on a Resume in 2022 | Easy Steps that Work will help a lot 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 show up on your resume even if you merely include the years or use a functional resume structure. You can get around this by listing what you were doing 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.

If 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, 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 you are trustworthy and honest, which can help you stand out from the crowd.

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, and I’m hoping to locate a sales supervisor or manager role that can help me improve my career.”

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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, as well as direct management of a team. I noticed that in the job description for this position… could you tell me more?”

Conclusion

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

Prepare yourself so that the recruiting manager understands why you decided to leave your prior employment.

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

FAQs

Does it matter to employers if there are gaps?

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 an employee does not work every day of their entire life, they might still be devoted and committed. It should surprise employers if an applicant has a break in work.

What is the best way to explain a career change?

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

Is it possible to acquire a job after a five-year hiatus?

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

How long is too long in between jobs?

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.

How do you write a CV with 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 simply account for any periods of time when you didn’t have a job.

How can you explain a disparity in educational attainment?

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 construed as career advancement, such as self-study to promote your education or starting a business.

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