How to Explain a Gap in my Resume

It’s like a stain on the front of your favorite sweater or a gouge on the top of your dining room table.

It’s that gap on your resume, and there’s no easy way to hide it.

Realistically, there are lots of valid professional and personal reasons why you may have a gap in employment history.  Still, an employment gap is a potential red flag to a recruiter.  It can call into question your commitment and reliability – and knock you out of contention for a great job.

Are you doomed?  Certainly not.  You just need to know how to address your resume gap correctly.  Use these tips from PrideStaff to effectively explain it – and keep yourself in the running for that job you want:

Have an answer ready.  Don’t ignore the elephant in the room.  If you have a resume gap, be prepared to explain it.  In your cover letter, review briefly the reason for your period of unemployment.  You can get into more detail during the interview.  By addressing the gap up-front and head-on, you can control the recruiter’s first impression of you; by ignoring it or trying to “gloss over” the issue, his imagination may run wild.

Change your resume format.  If your employment gap is significant, switch the focus of your resume to your skills and accomplishments – and away from your dates of employment.  Consider using a functional or hybrid resume format, as opposed to the traditional reverse-chronological one.

Always tell the truth.  If you do nothing else, be honest about why the gap exists.  Merely having a resume gap is not a good reason to reject you; lying about it, however, is.  So prepare a straightforward, positive response that explains why you are/were out of work.  Recruiters understand that unemployment happens for a variety of reasons – not all of which are under your control.

Keep things positive.  Even if you despised your last job, you shouldn’t say so in a cover letter or during an interview.  Doing so will only reflect poorly on you.  Instead, prepare one or two positive things you can say about your prior work experiences.

Explain the silver lining.  Did you take time off to go back to school?  Freelance?  Travel?  If so, these endeavors might make you an even better candidate for the job you want.  Be sure to point out the positives that came from your time away from work, if they exist.

Out of Work?  Fear you may be soon? 

The best way to handle a resume gap is by avoiding one altogether.  If you’re unemployed – or think you may be soon, PrideStaff can help minimize or even prevent an employment gap.  With offices nationwide, we offer a wide range of temporary, temp-to-hire and other transitional opportunities that can keep you working while you search for your next full-time job.  Contact the PrideStaff office in your area to find out more about great local job opportunities.