Don’t ignore the gap in your resume

Don’t ignore the gap in your resume

Business Monday: Don’t ignore the gap in your resume


There are lots of reasons as to why an individual may have gaps in the Career History section of their resume. Gaps can occur to allow for travel, further education, volunteering, caring for a child, or following redundancy. Explaining this type of gap on your resume can however be tricky. So, what is the best way to address a gap in your career history?

Be Truthful

Ultimately honesty is the only way forward when it comes to compiling your resume. You wouldn’t be very happy if your future employer had lied about the salary and development opportunities attached to the job you’ve just accepted, and in the same way an employer will be less than impressed if they uncover a lie or “cover up” on your resume that’s exposed later down the line. So deliberately concealing or lying about gaps in your career history is a definitely “no no”.

Provide an explanation

Do not leave a gap in your career history unexplained. Research demonstrates that if a recruiter notices a gap in the career history section of a resume but that gap isn’t explained, they are likely to deduce that the applicant is less honest than the average person. However, if the gap is noticed and explained, the recruiter is likely to deduce that the applicant is more honest than the average person.

Fill in the gap

During your career gap you would have been doing something! It may be that you were recovering from an illness, or caring for another individual. You may have been studying or travelling, or even actively seeking employment. There are endless possibilities.

Whilst you must provide an explanation for your career gap, your focus needs to be on the skills that you developed or gained during this break in employment. Skills, abilities and experiences gained outside of the workplace (especially those that clearly relate to the job or industry in which you’re seeking employment) are just as valuable as those gained within the workplace. Describe newly formed skills and list achievements gained during this time in exactly the same way as you would if you were discussing a previous role.

Think about the layout

A single gap in your career history can usually be easily addressed by following the advice above. However, if you have several gaps in your career history (and particularly if the gaps aren’t particularly positive), you may want to consider using a functional resume format.

A functional resume emphasises skills and achievements. The majority of the resume is used to provide examples that support a specific skill set, with academic qualifications and actual employment history acutely summarised. By structuring your resume in this way, gaps in career history are less obvious to the reader.

An example layout would be;

Personal Details – listed

Qualifications – listed with place undertaken stated

Skills, Knowledge and Abilities – up to 5 key skills listed, each supported by a strong paragraph that provides examples of how this skill has been demonstrated in the past

Employment History – dates, company and job title listed

Interests – listed

References – available on request

And finally, be prepared to discuss any gaps in your career history at the interview. A recruiter is likely to ask you about your time spent outside of the workplace, and you need to be prepared to respond in a positive way.

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