If you want to make sure you communicate the right message about your career gap, this is the article for you. Let’s deep dive into what are career gaps & how to explain them.
What are employment gaps or career gaps?
Career gaps are the time period when a person is not associated with any organization after leaving the prior company. The gaps may be due to study, medical reasons or a break from the professional world. They may sometimes be lengthy from 6 months to 1 year and sometimes less.
In this article, we will learn what is an employment gap, how to explain employment gaps in your resume effectively, resume examples with gaps in employment, cover letter for a gap in employment or letter of explanation for the gap in employment.
What is a career gap?
In the professional profile of a person, a career gap is the employment gap when an associate is not linked or hired into any organization. The duration of the gap can be a few weeks, months or years. It is mandatory to mention career gaps in your resume. The critical part is to explain gaps in employment to the next recruiting organization.
How common are gaps in employment among professionals?
Gaps in employment are not uncommon. Certain professionals consider career gaps as an opportunity to revisit the skill sets and find out ways to build up new competencies. Work-life balance is now the new concept among professionals. A person can think of studying in between job shifts which he or she may find it tough to pursue while being employed full time.
Many opt for such gaps to travel around the world, a break from the busy professional environment. Some may concentrate on health and medical issues and well-being before joining another profession or job.
Why some companies are concerned about resume gaps?
Hiring companies need to understand the resume gaps to find out the genuine interest of the individuals towards the job. They try to find out the reason for career gaps of whether a person has been on bench due to incompetencies or whether the gap is to jack up the skills. Their objective is to recruit the right people for the role they are looking for. Therefore they would scrutinize any resume gaps to extract the correct reason. It helps them to judge the potential and capability of the person applying for the position.
Top reasons why employment gaps occur
In this section, we will find out the top reasons for employment gaps. There are many good reasons for gaps in employment and some may last for many months to years. But these are not unnatural and can occur to any one. Let us discuss those career gaps in the subsequent sub-sections.
1. Employment gap on resume for pursuing higher education
Employment gap on resume can happen if one plans to pursue higher education. Certain academic degrees of qualifications are difficult to continue while being involved in full-time jobs. Hence a break is needed for focused dedication and attention. Higher education is also done for facilitating better roles in the next jobs.
2. Gaps in resumes for medical reasons
Medical reasons are often a major contributor to gaps in resumes. A person with an ill-health may fail to perform well in his or her job in a company. Constant work pressure may also prevent undergoing medical treatments. Hence professionals are sometimes forced to go for a break.
3. Gap in employment to care for a child
Caring for a child is another very common reason for gap in employment. It is essentially the work-life balance that one needs while nurturing a newborn baby or a toddler. This gap normally happens with a woman professional after child birth.
4. Unemployment gap for travel
Travel rejuvenates and energizes minds. So there are professionals who opt for an unemployment gap to explore travel destinations; a way to enjoy a break from the regular professional and personal life.
5. Take time off between jobs for freelancing
People working in the fixed boundaries of jobs often feel the monotony. So it’s good to take time off between jobs and do some freelancing activities. These open the horizons of exploring the different genres of work and gain more exposure.
6. Work gap to undergo professional training
Work gap is sometimes essential to undergo any professional training which lasts for a long duration in multiple courses. It helps in greater concentration and dedicated focus, ultimately gain in pursuing future ambitions and growth opportunities.
7. Gap in resume due to depression
A person may undergo any mental ailments which result in depression. Treatments and cures are needed to overcome it. Hence he or she decides for a break in job and thus a gap in resume. The gap is essential for a complete cure.
8. Gap furlough
Gap furlough can happen due to a temporary economic condition prevailing in a region forcing companies to operate under low wages and interim leaves. Employees may undergo such a situation and that may lead to a gap in the resume.
9. Gaps in resume for relocation
Digital nomads or professionals looking to relocate to a new city or country often opt for a gap in their career to find out the relevant choices and arrangements. Thus gaps in resume is common for them, usually leading to 4 to 6 months duration.
10. Work gaps due to family care
Sometimes there are medical emergencies in the family for which people need to take an off from a job and concentrate on the same. Work gaps are hence needed to ensure continuous care and attention to the members of the family.
How to explain gaps in employment?
Now that we have understood the various reasons for career gaps, the next question that comes up in mind is, how to explain gaps in employment?
In this section, we will point out the various ways to explain any gaps in employment.
1. Resume fillers with certifications and training courses
The best way on how to explain gaps in resume is to create resume fillers. Enter the certifications and training courses attended during the gaps. This will ensure that you were not sitting idle but elevating yourself for progression.
2. Employment gap for gaining experience
Another best way to explain employment gap is to specify the experience gathered during the time to enhance professional efficiency. This is one of the interesting how to explain employment gaps examples; ensuring you did not spend time in leisure.
3. Omit small gap work
If you have a small gap work then it is better to omit that. The recruiters will not realize or pay attention to such minor breaks. Gap cover-ups for negligible durations are acceptable and will not act as a hindrance for being recruited in the next job.
4. Employment gaps on resume to be mentioned in brief
Whenever you mention employment gaps on your resume, you must keep it brief. The gap explanation can be mentioned during the interview. As your focus must be on your skillset and experience and not on how to explain a lengthy employment gap. The more you speak it out the better.
5. Use resume format to conceal gap employment
A good idea on how to fill in employment gaps on resume is to use a unique resume format. Ensure the format has sections where you can highlight your accomplishments and experiences. The recruiters will look into those sections first and can gain a good understanding of your professional background, and may heedless attention to gap employment.
6. List down the reasons for careers gap
For the career gap, list down the exact reasons and explain the same to the recruiters. Your reasons must be convincing, not de-focusing on future growth or opportunity. It is recommended to emphasize on the work or activities done during that tenure.
7. Be honest in explaining gaps in employment
Be honest and truthful while explaining gaps in employment. There may be an employment gap due to personal reasons, medical emergencies, academics, health issues and many more. But you must state the reasons briefly and clearly to leave out no ambiguities.
8. Explain unemployment gaps but focus back to the interview
It is crucial that you explain unemployment gaps but try to deviate back to the interview. Express your interest for the job and the role. Relate the same to your skillset and experience. Showcase your knowledge to earn the interest of the recruiters.
9. Add freelancing experience in the job gap
In the job gap, add freelancing experience to the resume, if you have any. You can also speak about the freelancing experience to emphasize that your focus is steady on your career, ambitions and growth. You must know how to list contract jobs on a resume taken up as a freelancer.
10. Employment gap explanation with interest and poise
Employment gap explanation must be done with poise. It is recommended to show interest while recruiters request you to please explain any gaps in employment. They will not prefer you to avoid or ignore the question. Remember there is no harm in career gaps.
11. Sample resume with gaps in employment
Let us now check a sample resume with gaps in employment:
“I resigned from my previous job to care for an ageing and ailing family member. Now I have hired a full-time attendant. I am available for full-time work and in the future.”
“I have quit from my current job to pursue my MBA. My course was for 1.5 years. Now I am back to work with much higher knowledge, competence and confidence; ready to take up new roles and job positions.”
“I had to relocate to New Jersey, US since my spouse shifted. I had to leave my present job for the relocation. Now since I am settled, I am looking for a new job to start with.”
For mentioning the duration, ensure to check how to right justify dates on the resume.
Sample unemployment letter of explanation
Here is a sample unemployment letter of explanation for your reference.
To whom it may concern,
I am writing this letter to explain the 4 month gap in my employment from July 2021 to October 2021. Recently there has been a serious medical emergency in my family. I had to take care of my ailing father. But now the situation has normalized and I have a full dedicated attendant for my father. I am now available full time for the role and the job”.
You can refer this sample cover letter explaining gap in employment and mention the reasons as appropriate.
Unemployment interview questions
Here are some unemployment interview questions for reference and unemployment phone interview tips:
Question: Please explain any gaps in employment
Answer: You need to specify the reasons, the duration and that you are ready for the next job and role.
Question: What have you been doing during the career gaps?
Answer: You must mention about any certifications, training courses, freelance jobs etc. which you have undertaken
Question: Have you been ever laid off by any company?
Answer: If the answer is Yes, then it is good to be honest about the reason but focus on your skill set and efficiency
How long is too long of an employment gap?
The answer for how long is too long of an employment gap is, potentially more than 6 months is considered as long. But sometimes the gap may extend to 1 year or more due to higher studies, relocation or even sabbatical leave for child care. But it’s, not the duration which is important, but the reason behind it. You must be able to justify that and ensure your experience and knowledge level are not hampered. Furthermore, you must know how to answer unemployment interview questions.
Kuntala is a versatile writer with a focus on diverse areas around work, productivity, collaboration at work, hiring, management, HR, and training. Her background of past experience in technology and consulting helps in molding razor-sharp insights into the research and user-focused content she creates. Professionally she is an IT consultant in a sales role and also a writer of short stories and poems, travel blogger, and fashion influencer.