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What to Say When Your Resume Has an Annoying Gap

Posted August 12, 2013 by Christie Mims in Career Moves

Have you ever had a resume gap? A break in your timeline that makes you cringe and fills you with a certain shame when you even THINK about interviewing?

You think all sorts of crazy thoughts.  Things like, What if “they” find out  I wasn’t working for a period of time?

They could draw all sorts of conclusions….right?

  • I got fired
  • I got laid-off
  • I quit my job but couldn’t find another one
  • I’m sketchy
  • I’m unemployable!
  • I’m sketchy, suspicious, and unemployable!


Well, I’m here to say that you do NOT need to worry…quite so much.

While resume gaps are never something to shoot for (Why yes! I totally couldn’t find work for 6 months! Thank you for asking!), they aren’t the sign of evil that our parents grew up with.

The truth is, things have changed.

1. People are more mobile and more likely to change jobs than ever before.

2. The economy has been sucking for years, forcing many people into odd resume gaps.

3. The world is getting smaller, and travel, family leave, part-time work, and all sorts of reasonable excuses for not working for a bit are becoming more and more normal.

As a hiring manager, I never worried about the resume gap in and of itself, I worried about WHAT you were doing during the gap.  Were you doing something interesting or cool (travel, volunteering, learning new skills?) that was productive and forward thinking regardless of your reasons as to why you had the time (laid-off or doing it of your own volition).  Did you talk of it in a non-negative way? Or did you complain about it and seem shifty? Mostly, did you have a simple  and clear explanation?

Having confidence in your story is critical – know what you are going to say, know why, and be okay with the fact that it IS okay.  If you don’t think your resume gap is okay, the hiring manager will agree with you.

If you have a resume gap by choice (even if it drags out longer than you intended), then say this:

  • I took a few months off to travel, and I learned so much!
  • I wanted to travel in between jobs, and I just got back.
  • I took time off and did some volunteer work.  What I loved most about that experience was [insert something relevant to your new job/interview]

The truth is that if your resume gap is small, most employers won’t even notice it (use years and not months in your job descriptions).

If you are not taking a break by choice, and time has passed, say this:

  • My company down-sized and I took the opportunity to do [interesting and relevant thing] and now I’m excited to bring that to this workspace!
  • The market was slow after I left my last company, so I used the time to do [insert positive statement] while I was looking.

Put a positive spin on whatever happened, and tell a great story about it. Either way, it’s NOT something to panic about.

Now go forth and get employed!

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About the Author

Christie Mims

Christie Mims is The Radical Fairy Godmother to the Woman Trapped in Her Suit. A job reinvention specialist, she is a certified professional career and transition coach with a background working for Fortune 500 companies, the Department of Defense, and large Federal agencies. As a former business unit director in a top consulting firm, she has been there, done that, and worn those uncomfortable shoes. So, while she knows that career transition is hard, it doesn’t have to be lonely! Feeling stuck in your suit? Grab her free job UNstuck kit over at www.therevolutionaryclub.com! (That is also where she keeps her sage career wisdom AND a side sass). It’s time to make your career happy!