How to Explain a Gap on Your Resume

Reflect On What You’ve Learned

Before you start applying to jobs, you should think about what you learned during your time away from work. Maybe you took a few years off to raise a family, or you worked part-time while searching for full-time employment. Whatever it is you did, it is likely that you gained something valuable from that experience. Courtney, a hiring expert from ADP, sums it up like this: “Think about what you did with your time [during the gap] and reflect on what you experienced and learned that you will now apply to your career search.” 1


Brush Up On Skills or Certifications

Taking a class or getting a certification in something relevant to your industry can be a great way to offset a gap  in your resume, especially if you’ve been gone for an extended period of time. This can help quell employers’ fear that you may have lost your edge during your time away from work and reassure them that you are still qualified for the position. Lisa, a hiring expert for VF Corporation, suggests “applying to temp agencies as a way to get your foot in the door at local companies. This will give you the opportunity to brush up on your skills and to try out different employers to see which company could be a good match for you.” 2 If you can’t do that, try looking at courses at your local college or online. There are many options and certifications available in every field, and it gives you something recent to put on your resume.


Prepare To Answer Questions

On your resume, leave off any personal reasons for taking time away from work. You will want to be prepared to answer questions about gaps in your work history in a way that explains why you weren't working. In your response, you'll want to be positive and demonstrate you stayed busy.  If it's been a while since you’ve had an interview, Aliyah, a hiring expert from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, recommends you “Definitely brush up on preparing for interview questions, how to articulate your skills and interview expectations.” 3 By thinking about your answers to these questions beforehand, you can ensure you have a concise but complete response that will give employers all the information they need and reflect positively on you.


Coming back to the workforce after any amount of time away can be stressful, but explaining the gap to potential employers shouldn’t be. With a bit of thought and preparation, you can be ready to easily explain why you took time off and how it makes you a great candidate for the position. 

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