How Do I Explain an Employment Gap on My Resume?

woman making a resume
Photo by fizkes / Shutterstock.com

This post comes from Brie Weiler Reynolds of partner site FlexJobs.

Welcome to our “Work From Home Q&A” series. You ask a question about remote work, and a guest expert answers it.

You can learn how to ask a question of your own below.

This week’s question comes from Kathleen:

“It’s been a while since I updated my resume … Is there anything I can do to stand out because I haven’t worked in quite a while?”

Job hunting after an employment gap

The first thing I’d recommend is to have a section on your resume that addresses the gap, for a couple of reasons:

  1. One study compared job applicants who disclosed a reason for their work gap to those who did not. It found that applicants who provided a reason for their work gap on their resume and cover letter received nearly 60% more interviews than those who did not give a reason at all.
  2. Applicant tracking systems are often programmed to scan resumes and add work dates to determine how much experience a candidate has. They can also flag and sometimes dismiss resumes with work gaps.

By having a section on your resume that fills in the gap with information, you’re helping your chances of making it past the applicant tracking systems and initial recruiting screenings — and getting to an interview.

Here are two examples of career break sections on resumes:

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Planned Career Break, 09/2013 – Present

    • An intentional pause to focus on full-time caregiving; Excited and energized to return to work
    • Stayed on top of digital marketing and industry trends via professional associations, online trainings, and regular conversations with colleagues and mentors
    • Volunteered with the Smith County School District in several roles organizing large-scale events

EXPERIENCE

Career Break, 07/2013 – 09/2015

    • One of multiple people laid off due to a change in company strategy
    • Consistently received outstanding performance reviews from leadership and peers; parted on good terms

Other things you might consider adding to your resume include:

  • Any casual or formal education and training you’ve done while you’ve been away from work
  • A “Technology Skills” section that showcases the digital communication tools and platforms you’re familiar with, as well as business-related programs like Microsoft Office
  • A strong “Summary and Key Skills” section at the top that highlights your most relevant skills and experiences for the job you’re applying for

About me

I am a career development manager and coach at FlexJobs, where I help people find flexible work, including remote, part-time and freelance jobs. Before joining FlexJobs in 2010, I was a career adviser for college students and alumni. I have a master of science in human resources management and am a certified advanced resume writer.

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You also can find all past answers from this series on the “Work From Home Q&A” webpage.

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