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Addressing Gaps in Employment History


For many job seekers, gaps in employment history may pose challenges in the job application process.  While gaps in employment  may be viewed negatively by hiring managers, they are not insurmountable obstacles.  With a little ingenuity, most job seekers can address these gaps in a satisfactory manner and land a position they are pleased with.  If you are applying to open positions and have gaps in your employment history, here are some ways you can address those gaps.  The best technique for your specific situation will depend on the length of and the reason for the gap in employment.

Reason for a Gap in Employment that is a Few Months

Gaps in employment that are only a few months long may be addressed by slightly adjusting the dates on your resume.  Dates of employment should always be included on a resume (not including them will raise even more issues than a gap does), but the format they are included in is flexible.  If you have a gap or two of only a few months, format your employment dates in seasons, rather than months.


The Functional Resume

For more significant gaps in employment history, UC Berkeley tells its alumni to use a different resume format.  Rather than formatting your resume in a reverse-chronological order, UC Berkeley recommends using a functional resume.  This type of resume may be the best resume for employment gaps.  A functional resume includes (in this order):

  1. Qualifications – a brief statement of experience and skills
  2. Strengths – a bulleted list, with relevant experience mentioned below each strength
  3. Professional Experience – employment history, with dates
  4. Related Experience – relevant experience not gained at a job

This format acknowledges gaps in employment history, but it emphasizes the applicant’s strengths more than experience.


Explaining Gaps in Employment History

Depending on the reason for a gap in employment, it may be advisable or unadvisable to disclose it.  Obviously, if you were incarcerated or became disabled, then you should not include this reason on your resume.  If necessary, it is better to explain this in person than on a paper.  Employers, however, are prohibited by law from asking about disabilities.

If the gaps in employment history come from caring for a family member or raising children, though, you might want to mention this.  This information should not be included on your resume, but it can be included in a short, well-crafted statement on your cover letter.

Gaps in employment history should not prevent you from applying for positions you would like.  They are a challenge, but a savvy job seeker will be able to address these gaps and land a good job.


Additional Resources:

What is an Employment Gap – Source:

How to Explain Gaps in Employment History – Source:

Employment History Resume Examples -Source:  About .com

Reason for Gap in Employment – Source:

Employment History Letter – (Example/template of letter explaining employment gap) Source:  Microsoft


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