I’m a Professional Resume Writer — Here Are 3 Ways To Address a Career Gap on Your Resume

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Meg Applegate88
I connect women to career advancement
May 28, 2024 at 10:35AM UTC

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that sometimes things don’t go according to plan. There are so many things that can lead to a gap in employment: a layoff, the need to care for a sick family member or even an unprecedented COVID pandemic. Sometimes, career breaks can be intentional, too, like taking time off to access training and education or choosing to stay home to raise your kids. 

If your career is on pause, you aren’t alone.

Upwards of 43% of women opt out of work for a time. Over 2.3 million women have left the workforce since February 2020—many choosing to do so because of the closure of schools and daycares due to the pandemic.

With that said, there are real challenges to returning to the workforce. You are 45% less likely to receive a job interview when you have gaps in your work history. 

How do you position your career break to your advantage? 

1. Try an easy formatting fix.

Our first inclination is to hide it, but honesty is always the best policy. If you have a short gap as a mid-career professional, you can use an easy formatting fix: Delete months on your resume. For example:

With months:

Virtual Events Manager, Company XYZ | December 2020 – Current

Events Manager, Company ABC | January 2016 – March 2020

Without months:

Virtual Events Manager, Company XYZ | 2020 – Current

Events Manager, Company ABC | 2016 – 2020

For gaps longer than within a year, don’t lose hope! New research finds that owning your employment gap goes further than spinning or hiding your break. Don’t hide it. Own it.

2. Explain the gap.

According to a recent study by ResumeGo, explaining a gap on your resume increases your chances of landing an interview. 

It is in your best interest to share the “why” behind your employment break. 

According to the study, applicants who disclosed why they had a work gap were 60% more likely to receive a call back for an interview than those who didn't. Don't only mind the gap—explain it.

On your resume, this looks like this: 

Social Media & Marketing Manager | 2013 – 2016 | Left position to get MBA

Product Manager | 2011 – 2015 | Left for a 5-year stint to care for children 

If you were laid off due to a reduction-in-force due to COVID-19, write a succinct statement at the end of the summary of your role below your job title. For example:

AREA SALES DIRECTOR - Infused consultative sales culture by establishing sales processes and mentorship program in the Midwest region. Expanded from one to three offices with 75 direct reports. Affected by reduction in force by COVID-19.

If you don’t address it in your resume, do so briefly in your cover letter. Let your achievements and contributions take the main stage no matter where you address them.

3. Point to the skills you’ve learned.

If you have an extensive break, remember that you’ve acquired skills during that time, just not in the workplace. Your gap is an asset, not a liability. Use leadership experiences in your parent-teacher organization, board membership and fundraising drives to showcase the skills you’ve acquired while you’ve been away. 

Give hiring managers and recruiters the correct narrative before they fill in the blanks themselves.

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Meg Applegate is an award-winning resume writer who connects high-achieving women to career advancement under her boutique resume writing and coaching firm, Hinge Resume Collaborative.

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