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How To Explain A Gap In Work History

Framing the gap: Show, don't tell.

Employers want to hire people who are willing to work and will be loyal to the company. If there's a gap in your work history, you may need to explain what happened during that time and why you are ready for a job now.

The best way to talk about a gap in your work history is with a functional resume. This type of resume puts more emphasis on skills rather than experience. It allows you to focus on what you've been doing during the time you were out of work. According to The Balance Careers, “the functional format focuses on specific qualifications instead of specific past employers, making it an excellent choice for job seekers with gaps in their employment history.”

When talking about gaps in your employment, use phrases like “during this time I learned or developed the following skills ...” or “I am confident that my skills make me an ideal candidate for this role because ...” By using these phrases, you are framing the gap so that it sounds like learning experiences rather than unemployment.

Pros and cons.

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of explaining your gap:


Explaining a gap is your chance to convince them that you aren't hiding anything. It's especially important to explain if your gap came at an odd time in your employment history, like right after starting a new job or during the middle of one. You don't have to go into detail about the personal reasons behind it, but you should be clear enough that they know there is nothing suspicious happening. Employers might not ask about gaps, but they will wonder why there are unexplained gaps in your resume. If you include personal details, keep them brief and relevant to the question at hand. There's no shame in taking time off for mental health reasons or being laid off due to budget cuts—these are things that employers understand happen sometimes and will likely respect you more for being honest about it rather than trying to hide it from them. While some employers may assume things like mental health issues and layoffs without you having to explain yourself, it's still better to be upfront about what happened so that everyone involved is on the same page about what went down.

The three "R"s.

If you can't explain why your work history gap is related to rest, relaxation, or recreation, you may want to strongly consider whether it's in your best interest to share the truth. If you took time off to explore your sexuality, for example, that's not something many employers will understand. It's especially true if you're applying for a job at a religious institution.

If you decide that explaining the truth isn't what's best for your career goals, or if you just don't want to explain it at all—that's OK too. There are plenty of other ways to describe gaps in employment without lying about them.

Talking about something like "career exploration" instead of recreational travel is another way to make a hobby sound more professional and career-oriented than it really was. For example: "I had been working hard for several years so I took some time off to travel." vs. "I had been working hard for several years so I took some time off to explore new cultures and learn new things." The first one sounds like taking an expensive vacation while the second sounds like meeting with important figures in other cultures and expanding your worldview as a person which also happens to be impressive and valuable as an employee!

Focus on the future, not the past.

• Focus on how this role is a good match for your skills and experience.

• Talk about what you learned from your past work experiences.

• Talk about why the company appeals to you.

• Go into detail about how your past work experience has prepared you for this role, or related roles you're applying for.

Know how to explain your employment gap and then do your best to move forward with confidence.

If you do find yourself being interviewed for a position that you’d like to get, your best bet is to be prepared. Not only will it earn you extra points with the interviewer, but it can give you confidence as well.

As a hiring manager, I’ve dealt with many candidates who have had employment gaps in their resume and found that some of them did a better job at handling the situation than others. When it comes down to it, I think the difference between those people who struggled and those who shined was simple: preparation. So if you are in this situation, here are a few tips on how to tackle that employment gap head-on:

• Show, don’t tell:

It’s generally pretty easy for employers to spot an employment gap and understand why someone might have left their previous job. What they want is more information about what you did during that time instead of just being told something generic like “I gained valuable life experience."

• Pros and cons:

Just like with any tough decision in life, there are usually both pros and cons when making the choice to leave an employer or otherwise take time off from work. You should prepare examples of both types of situations since they will likely come up during your interview anyway.

Additional resources.

Additional reading/resources:

• [What to do if you have a gap in your resume]( 2063037)

• [How to explain career changes on your resume]( explaincareerchangesonyourresume)

• [Guide to bridging the gap on your resume](

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