How To Explain An Employment Gap (With Examples)

by | Finding A Job, Interviewing, Resumes & LinkedIn

There’s nothing wrong with having a gap in your employment. According to a recent survey by LinkedIn, nearly 80% of hiring managers would hire a candidate with a career gap. Yet 72% of job seekers believe there’s still a stigma associated with having an employment gap.

In this article, I share:

  • How to explain gaps in employment.
  • Mistakes to avoid when addressing a gap in employment.
  • Examples of how to talk about an employment gap.

How To Explain An Employment Gap

To begin, do you need to address a gap in employment on your resume or LinkedIn profile? While recruiters and hiring managers have become more empathetic about gaps since the pandemic, I still advise addressing gaps on your resume, as well as on your LinkedIn profile, to improve your chances of hearing back from employers.

But what exactly should you say about the gap? Is there a best way to talk about unemployment without scaring off potential employers? The answer is a resounding yes. Your goal is to share just enough information to keep the reader’s mind from wandering and incorrectly assuming the worst about the break.

In most cases, this looks like formatting the gap like the other positions on your resume or LinkedIn profile, then potentially highlighting the skills you’ve sharpened, as well as any relevant accomplishments.

Let’s say you took two years off from full-time work to pursue an MBA. You could list the university as your employer during that time, with “MBA student” as your title and your attendance dates as your employment dates. (I share additional examples later in this article.)

[Read: The Truth About Lying On Your Resume]

Mistakes To Avoid When Addressing An Employment Gap

Now, what shouldn’t you do when explaining a gap in employment? For starters, you want to avoid oversharing, especially on your resume or LinkedIn profile. Stay concise and only share necessary details with the reader. Brevity is your friend when trying to mitigate the raising of any red flags with recruiters and hiring managers.

[Read: “How Many Bullet Points Per Job On Resume?” Answered]

Next, you want to be prepared to talk about your gap during a recruiter screening call or interview. Take the time to craft strategic responses to, “What were you doing during [year]?” and “What have you been doing since your last job?” Also, practice pivoting the conversation away from any career gaps and toward your interest in working for the prospective employer.

Lastly, you don’t need to feel embarrassed or ashamed if you have an employment gap. In fact, LinkedIn now allows you to add a Career Break, which should help normalize the practice.

Explaining An Employment Gap: Examples

So how do you go about explaining a gap on your resume? The following are a few examples of how you might strategically do so:

  • If you were caring for a family member during a health crisis: “Ready to pursue Product Management roles following an intentional break from employment to care for a family member who is now living in a skilled nursing facility.”
  • If you experienced a medical absence: “Prepared to return to the tech industry after tending to a one-time health concern that is now 100% resolved.”
  • If you were part of a reduction in force (RIF): “One of ~32,000 employees laid off by Disney as result of the Covid pandemic.”

Final Thoughts On Addressing Employment Gaps

Remember that your work history is only one part of your larger story. However, if you’re still struggling, consider partnering with a career coach who can help you rebuild your confidence, develop a career story you’re proud of, and find a job you love. You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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