How to Explain Gaps in a Your Resume

Gaps in your resume can complicate your ability to restart your career. But don’t dodge the issue. The best thing you can do is address the situation and explain why the gaps are there.  

After all, taking time off from a career is very common. In the U.S. right now, there are approximately 91 million people who don’t have a job and don’t want one. Most of these happy millions are retired, hopefully living the good life after a long, fruitful career. But the stat also includes nearly 20 million people between 25 and 54 years old – folks theoretically in the prime of their working years, who have no interest in going to work right now. 

What happens when they are ready to head back to the workforce? That’s what we’re here to figure out. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you need to explain the gaps in your resume: 

Be Upfront  

As we said, it’s pointless to try to paper over the gaps in your resume. Potential employers are going to notice. After all, it’s’s a simple matter of lining up the dates you have listed in your work experience. 

Don’t just ignore the situation, hoping it won’t come up. You might not get asked about it directly, but HR managers will have it in mind. For that reason, it’s better to be upfront and tackle the situation head-on. 

Use Your Cover Letter 

Waiting for the interview to discuss gaps in your resume can represent a risky strategy. You aren’t guaranteed an interview, so you might not get a chance to explain in person. Putting off the discussion might leave your chances already dead.  

Luckily, you have one communication source at your disposal early in the process: your cover letter. 

Many people view the cover letter as an unnecessary nuisance. However, it can come in handy. If you have gaps in your resume, the cover letter offers the perfect way to discuss the situation before meeting anyone at a prospective employer. When you craft the document, take a few sentences to explain why you stepped away from the workforce. 

Consider the Skills You Developed During the Gaps 

Just because you weren’t part of the formal workforce doesn’t mean you weren’t developing skills that will be useful on the job. It’s a mistake to assume your resume gaps represent waste of time, at least in a professional sense. That’s simply not true.  

Let’s look at a few examples. Time spent as a stay-at-home parent can teach valuable lessons about organization and time management. Going back to school obviously leads to new marketable knowledge. Taking care of a sick relative requires empathy and communication.  

The list of skills you can enhance during a break from your career is endless. When the subject comes up, have this less-obvious development in mind.  

Describe How You Prepared to Return to the Workplace  

You probably aren’t returning to the workforce cold. Part of your journey back to professional life probably included educating yourself about the state of your industry and bringing yourself up-to-date on what you missed while you were away. 

Describe this process to your potential employers. Their main concern is that your gaps will leave you behind other job candidates. If you show them that you have stayed current during your career break, it will ease this fear. 

Concentrate on the Future  

Any job application looks to the future. You want a new professional opportunity. Your potential employer wants to bring in new talent. As such, don’t get stuck in the past.  

In other words, don’t let your resume gaps hijack your ability to sell yourself to the firm. Eventually, your goal should be to pivot back to the opportunity at hand and why you are the perfect candidate for the position. 

Ready to get back to work after a break from your career? Consider a staffing agency as your best way back into the workforce. A strong recruiter, like SmartTalent, can get you the perfect placement to jumpstart your professional life. 

Contact SmartTalent today to learn more.


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