How to Explain Your Resume Gaps

How to Explain Your Resume Gaps

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“Can you walk me through your resume?” will be asked in some form at least once during every interview. In addition to your skills and experience, you should be able to explain how you moved from one job to the next, even if there were resume gaps.

Here are 5 common reasons for resume gaps and how to own the gap during the interview process:

1. Parents who stay at home

If you took time off from work to raise children, explain how you used that time to gain skills, information, or experience that is relevant to the job. For example, did you help at the school your kids attended? Set up events or attempts to raise money? Were you the parent who set up trips for your child’s sports team? Those things are relevant to the job you’re trying to get. For example, let’s say you want to keep working on global fundraisers.

You could tell the interviewer: “I took some time off to take care of my children, but I was able to keep my skills up-to-date by volunteering for the kids’ sports league. I set fundraising goals and helped the team meet them so people who needed money could get it.”

How to Explain Your Resume Gaps

2. Loss of a loved one or taking care of a sick relative

If you took time off to help a parent or other family member, you should be proud of your decision to spend that necessary time with them. Look at that event from the point of view of the job. For example, if you want to get back into customer service, you could highlight your job as a liaison with the health care providers of a family member:

“I took some time off to help take care of my dad. During that time, I could use my good communication skills with various healthcare providers and my organizational skills to set up meetings with his financial planner, brokers, and legal representation, which gave him peace of mind. I want to use those problem-solving skills and my ability to stay calm under pressure in this job.”

If you’re trying to get a job in banking, you could talk about your experience as an executor:

“I spent my vacation time with my mother before she died. I was chosen as the executor because I am responsible, organized, and intelligent with money. For example, I communicated well with multiple clients, such as utility companies, credit card companies, medical facilities, and banks. I was able to close out the estate quickly and well because of my skills, and now I’m looking for a new task to use those skills for.”

3. Travelling the world

When you go back to your business job after taking some time off to travel, think about how you used that time to learn new things. For example, if you’re interviewing with a multinational business, you could talk about the subtleties of working with people from different cultures and how living in other countries has given you a view of the workplace that most people don’t have.

If you want to get a job in operations, you could talk about how well you planned trips, used a P&L to make budget decisions, and used critical thought to decide where to go next. If you took the time to learn a second, third, or fourth language, explain how speaking or writing fluently in those languages makes you a better choice than those who don’t know more than one language.

How to Explain Your Resume Gaps

Related Article: 4 Ways to Disconnect From Work During Vacation

4. Returning to school

You might have returned to school to get an MBA or a Ph.D. If you went to school full time, explain how specific projects you worked on are directly related to the job and how they, along with any past work experience, will make you a unique asset to the role. You might have a Master’s in Business Administration and want to work in business management. Did you work for real businesses? Put them on your resume to discuss them for an interview.

If you got skills without returning to school for a standard degree, like by taking a course or getting a certification, explain how those skills apply to the job and make you stand out from other candidates. If you read certain books to learn something new about your job or to improve your ability to lead, talk about how you would use the lessons you learned at work.

5. Terminated employment

If you were affected by a mass layoff that wasn’t linked to your performance, tell the interviewer that the business strategy changed. Your department or team was let go in the most recent layoffs. The bad thing has turned out to be a blessing because you were planning to look for a new task.

If you were fired for performance, it’s clear that your boss didn’t think you were doing a good job. But maybe you had a different opinion or didn’t think the job was what you were looking for. In this case, the job was different from what you thought it would be, and didn’t make the best use of your skills and abilities. Always talk about what you’ve learned from the experience and what you’re doing to ensure your next step is closer to what you want. For instance:

“I knew right away that the job wasn’t what was said it would be, but I was committed to the company, so I wanted to do my best. Ultimately, my skills in areas A, B, and C weren’t used well enough to help the business. So, we broke up on good terms. Which gave me time to find the right job where I could add the most value based on what the business needs.”

If you quit a job for a wrong setting or other reasons, don’t discuss it in job interviews. Find a positive way to explain why you left.

For example, you could say:

“While working 60 hours a week, I couldn’t focus on finding a career that aligned with my principles.”

Most importantly, don’t say anything wrong about anyone. Because that makes you appear to blame others without taking responsibility, which you may do at the new job. Now is the time to act in a good way.

Since the pandemic, most companies have been more understanding and less picky about resume gaps. However, you should be ready to explain the gaps clearly, confidently, and fluently. Owning your job path means the recruiter and hiring manager can combine all the pieces. By making the story fit around any holes, you can make them less of a problem.

Are you looking to make a career move to find balance in your life again? Find your dream job on, download our free mobile app today.

Anisa is a writer who focuses on career and lifestyle topics in an effort to motivate both job searchers and employers towards greater fulfillment in their professional lives.

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