7 Ways to Deal with an Employment Gap on a Resume

Many people have been out of work for quite some time. If that’s the case for you then you may have to explain this employment gap at the interviews that you go to. But how can you make your resume great so that you get those interviews (and the chance to explain yourself) in the first place? There are actually a lot of little tricks that you can implement on your resume to help you deal with an employment gap.


Here are 7 resume tips for the employment gap issue:


  1. Use years only for all dates on the resume. If you include both month and year then there’s going to be a greater chance that gaps in employment will be revealed. If you stick to just using years then the gaps may be easily hidden in many instances. There’s nothing questionable or inappropriate about using years only as dates on a resume especially if you have a long work history.
  2. Don’t draw attention to dates with bold font. If you have a gap in your employment history then the last thing that you want to do is to draw attention to it. Despite this, many people will use a resume template that has the dates in bold. Un-bold all dates to take attention away from them.
  3. Do draw attention to others areas of the resume with bold font. For example, if the format of your resume is to have the date followed by your job title then leave the date in regular font and make the job title bold. You can also increase the font size of the job title instead of bolding it to draw attention towards the important information and away from the employment gap that is revealed on your resume.
  4. Add a summary statement to the top of your resume. This is a statement that summarizes your entire career history, highlighting all of your most important achievements and skills. Putting this at the beginning of a resume will tell the employer about what you’ve done thereby de-emphasizing the fact that you’ve had some employment gaps that show up later in the resume.
  5. Include unpaid positions to cover the gaps. Hopefully you’ve been keeping yourself busy during the time that you are unemployed. (If not, make sure that you check out these resume-boosting activities to get started on that!) You can often use the experience you’ve gained in this time to cover a gap on a resume. For example, if you volunteered in a position between jobs then simply list it as a job in the same format (job title, dates, etc.) There is no requirement that you had to be paid for your work for it to count as a job on your resume!
  6. Consider using a functional resume rather than a chronological resume. Writer Bob Lankard explains: “A functional résumé describes skills by categories rather than in a chronological tally of job titles.” This takes the date issue away all together. You may still be asked about your chronological work history at an interview but by then you’ll have one foot in the door and a better opportunity to explain those gaps in employment. Do note that there can be drawbacks to this option as well, though. Quint Careers explains: “A functional resume is a potential red flag to employers because it suggests that the job-seeker may have something to hide, so use caution before using a functional resume. Recruiters and hiring managers prefer chronological resumes because they are easier to read and list skills and job functions as they apply to each position. A functional resume does not.” Weigh the pros and cons of a functional resume vs. a chronological resume before deciding which way to go.
  7. Include a cover letter with every resume. This is a place where you can appropriately explain any gaps in your employment history. Be brief and don’t sound negative or apologetic about the situation. Just explain why you’ve been unemployed and what strengths you have that make you a good candidate for the job anyway.


Has an employment gap affected your ability to get a job? Share your story in the comments!


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One Comment

  1. Posted July 5, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Writing CVs for a living. I am seeing that people are using social media more and more for recruiting. At the least, they will check your Facebook and Linkedin profile as well as possibly your twitter account. We are moving to an online website offering as an alternative or complement to the traditional CV

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