How to explain a legitimate employment gap in a resume

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Comments (28)

frank197 in San Francisco

86 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: My problem with the "Dude," his kindred "experts" and allied resumes writer lackeys is they recommend that one submit a chrono resume, only. Just read these fora. Nearly every one of the (shill) resume writers declare one must use a chrono resume or else. None of these individuals consider that one size does not fit all. They never recommend alternative resume formats. It would be an admission against interest if they did, I'm sure. They also don't like when alternative resume formats get interviews.

If anything, resume writers need to be open minded about better serving their clients and not their recruiter and HR masters.

Displaced, Do you mind if I ask you if you're currently looking for a job right now? Are you still practicing law?

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mycon in Georgia

76 months ago

Folks,

If you can't get employed, then get involved....

Go participate, volunteer, get trained, do some training:
* Professional Affiliations
* Training - directly related & even a few indirectly related
-- Believe or not, depending on the type of company & training, some training
can be negotiated to reduced tuition & perhaps, even waived tuition. There
may be conditions, but that's entirely between the training service & you.
* Find or develop a more effective system for yourself to pursue those jobs
* Get creative - There are so many things that one can do, rather than sit
behind a computer all day long.

The culmination of these or other types of activities can demonstrate to prospective employer that yo are a "proactive" person who's not willing to sit around & wait....

In some instances, that's one of the reasons that employers don't hire "qualified" candidates. They may have all the book smarts, 10+ years of hands-on experience, but in today's market, being able to fit into the company's corporate culture also part of the qualification.

Actually, "doing something", "taking action" can be demonstrated onto a résumé &/or cover letter, which may capture an employer's interests, rather than one with a (huge) employment gap.

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-indeedhost in Austin, Texas

76 months ago

Hello everyone, This is a forum for people to discuss jobs, industries, companies and such. While we encourage the exchange of ideas and opinions, we ask that you refrain from making personal attacks as well as offensive comments. We also ask that you keep all comments on topic. Please help us foster a professional and informative environment for all our users. Indeed Host

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mycon in Georgia

76 months ago

losthope in Indiana said: Who here stated that EVERY employer throws out a resume with gaps? I didn't see anyone make that broad statement. However, some of them WILL throw them out whether you want people to hear that or not.

I'll agree... Who the heck knows what employers are looking for. Sometimes they don't seem to know what type of candidates they are seeking, despite having a laundry list of requirements & someone to fit in their "corporate culture".

If one can't get a job in their desired field, then branch out & do other things to fill the employment gap. I already listed or suggested multiple things that both the unemployed & employed could do to better their situation.

The culmination of of activities can not only build one's skills but can position a candidate towards better opportunities or be "that" person they hire!!! Just imagine, beating out a dozen plus candidates, getting down to the top 2 or 3 & the reason "you" beat out the other candidates is not necessarily because of your qualifications alone, but because you appeared to be a person didn't sit on their a@@, while unemployed....

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Nick in Somerville, Massachusetts

65 months ago

Employers get away with m.u.r.d.e.r, these days. They can ask for anything, or judge you by anything. I'm quite sure that I've lost out on job opportunities because of my sex, education, race, and age. Can I prove it? Not at all. But some of these jobs...there is NO reason why I shouldn't at least be getting to the interview stage...unless they're not-so-secretly looking for "a certain type of person."

In MA, you "have the option" of providing your race and sex. It's "not required" and "not important" but I bet if you refuse to provide either one, your resume discreetly finds it's way to the shredder. If it's not important, WHY ASK?

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VSGarner in Walnut Cove, North Carolina

63 months ago

I have not tried to cover the caregiver gap. Not quite sure how to phrase it and it certainly doesn't play into IT - unless you count spreadsheets of medications! I carried my own hobby (web site development NOTE: NOT A PRO) on my resume to 2010. But I had to shelve job hunting for a while because I developed a severe spinal stenosis (not genetic or recurring) that left me almost unable to walk. Because I still had some care-giving duties, surgery had to wait. FINALLY last November there was no choice - I had to have the spinal fusion. It worked like the magic bullet and I am fully recovered and been seeking employment.

Just got off the phone with one recruiter whose 'clients' wanted to know what I had done since 2010. I explained as succinct as possible with no long drawn out tale that could be construed as whining. I also made clear MY surgery was a one time fix.

The recruiter asked, "so you did not work from 2010?" I replied "As Caregiver" (thing other adjectives to call him). He informed me my resume was withdrawn and he would apologize to his clients.

Should I just throw a Summa cum Laude Degree (+ some graduate school work) AND 15 year career because of a gap? I cannot even afford to go to school right now or I would have my masters. Continuing courses is not cutting it.

At the end of the rope about to start swinging...

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equality101 in Georgia

63 months ago

VSGarner in Walnut Cove, North Carolina said: Been there - tried that and I NEVER say looking for a job. I AM looking to relocate, and reiterate to those calling in the state I wish to relocate.

They don't care about "dying for a loved one." Found that out. And today I was told a 6-month gap in employment puts you out of the running. Very distressing.

Speaking of gaps many of my friends that are unemployed have been told that longer than 3 months out of work gets your resume nowhere. One in particular was asked why he had been out of work for so long. He had only been out of work for a little over a month.

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Nick in Somerville, Massachusetts

63 months ago

^ yep. I quit my job at Sears 12/11 and was hired for my current p/t gig 2/12, and an interviewer actually wanted me to explain the month gap in between. I forgot exactly what I said, but I was thinking "um, January is the slowest hiring month of the year in a bad economy?"

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equality101 in Georgia

63 months ago

I know for a fact I was eliminated from a position when I was out of work due to a gap. I had a close friend pass my resume on to the hiring manager. My friend told me that he looked at my resume and said that I had good skills, but that being out of work for 8 months would make my skills stale. Of course he added it to his file, but I never got called.

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Bluetea in Texas

63 months ago

equality101 in Georgia said: I know for a fact I was eliminated from a position when I was out of work due to a gap. I had a close friend pass my resume on to the hiring manager. My friend told me that he looked at my resume and said that I had good skills, but that being out of work for 8 months would make my skills stale. Of course he added it to his file, but I never got called.

That's happened to me several times. Gaps are a killer.

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Terrell Pearson in Chicago, Illinois

52 months ago

Ellie in Harvey, Illinois said: Hi, I graduated from college in 2006 and decided to take a little time off after school after I got cold feet about going to law school (4 years later, I am certain I do not want to go). I dragged my feet a little because I did not do internships while in college and was not very active and I became nervous about getting a job (I also have extreme performance anxiety about writing a resume to the point where I practically have a panic attack when I try to write one). During this time my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer which eventually spread to her brain. With my mom becoming increasingly debilitated and helpless, it got to the point where she really needed someone to take care of her constantly, and I became her unpaid caretaker. My mother needed me, and the economy had crumbled, especially in my area, and I stopped even thinking about trying to get a real job. After a long and painful decline, my mother passed away at the end of April and I am just starting to pick up the pieces. I am now in the position where I am basically starting out and yet am four years out of college, and I am getting really scared because I see no prospect for financial independence. I don't even know what field to look in, I just have to have some honest work.

I don't know how to handle this. I've always been really terrible at selling myself anyway, and all I can put on my resume is a campus job and some work-at-home stuff I have done on the internet since March 2009. I know I need to account for my lack of work history all this time, but I just don't know how to explain the situation on a resume. I may very well use a resume writing service if I can't get past my mental block, and as I've said, I am bad at selling myself, but I was wondering if anybody can give me any pointers for accounting for this mess?

Thank you to anybody who takes the time to read this.

It is crazy how your story is almost exactly like mine.Wow.

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jenwyatt in Waterford, Michigan

50 months ago

Are You Serious in Denver, Colorado said: I've come to the conclusion that those, including employers, who talk down to others and enjoy making others feel small to boost their own status/standing in a group, aren't my crowd. They have too many problems and aren't supporting the best interests of others. Being a leader requires that you actually have good leadership and team building skills.

I functioned as a caregiver for my mother for two or three years before her death. She was in a less than stellar convalescent home. I visited her two or three times a week. My mother was paralyzed on the right side of her body due to a stroke and was in some pain. The convalescent home was understaffed, which meant more visits were needed to keep up the quality of her care. During the course of my visits, I developed some friendships with other family members who had family or friends at the convalescent home. We started our own support group. The purpose of group was to be supportive to each other and advocate for more aides in the home. For me, my mother's care and the issue of enough aides in the home became a major "social issue and cause". The issue was a major social problem in the State of Michigan at the time. We worked closely with a patient advocacy group called Citizens for Better Care. Our group and our cause was written up in the Detroit Free Press. I am not writing this to give myself a pat on the back. I am writing this to portray the amount of love, work, commitment, stress and time that being a caregiver involves. It is a job in and of itself.

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Travis in Medina, Ohio

50 months ago

Sooo sorry to hear about your situation, but you have a pretty concrete reason why you were out of the workforce. So i don't think interviewing will be terribly difficult for you.

Your bigger obstacle will be getting the interview. Instead of shot gunning resumes, you are going to need to have a different approach. Look at sites like 48Days to the work you love or Life after college. There is a lot of valuable information.

For now...try and figure out what you want to do. What are you good at doing? What are your interests? Start putting this together and go from there.

Hope this helps a little.

Travis
[URL advertisement removed by Indeed Moderator]

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brentawhite@*****.*** in Royal Oak, Michigan

47 months ago

Breaks in employment like yours can be explained BRIEFLY, and I stress BRIEFLY as you want to explain it but not have it be too much of a focal point.

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brentawhite@*****.*** in Royal Oak, Michigan

47 months ago

Breaks in employment like yours can be explained in your cover letter BRIEFLY, and I stress BRIEFLY as you want to explain it but not have it be too much of a focal point.

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Bluetea in Texas

47 months ago

brentawhite@gmail.com in Royal Oak, Michigan said: Breaks in employment like yours can be explained in your cover letter BRIEFLY, and I stress BRIEFLY as you want to explain it but not have it be too much of a focal point.

Incarcerated: Early release for good behavior.

How's that? That is what they think anyway.

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Ranjan Kumar in Ludhiana, India

43 months ago

Just say you quit for the reasons others have elaborated on. Sounds legit to me.

As for the lapse, mock up some plane tickets - like a 'round the world trip (a safari is a good one, too...I used it once to explain 6 months of really just sitting home loafing and remodeling). you can tinker with the timing to make it look like you got home dropped your stuff and immediately started looking for work. Just be sure if you get hired to go to Pier ! and get some tschachkes (of appropriate origin) for your office that look like you actually did it. I did that too. They all fell for it.

Oh here's another one...went to Australia to look for a job but had no luck, or "ah, I didn't like it there..so I came back and here I am..." (you expand on that). That's a good one, too.

They'll think you're worldly which is real "in" these days with large corps, and heck couild prime you for the big time. You never know. Just remember: read up on the place(s) and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

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Jennifer Hinds in Phoenix, Arizona

43 months ago

Sorry about your Mom.

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Shadowlane in Dallas, Texas

39 months ago

Start getting information on school you attended/ volunteer programs how long you took care of family member you just give explanation wen took care of your mom. Make a resume. Simple -Objective, Key strengths, experience, education, and a few references..But don't tell all your life story to employers.

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MonteCarloCarFan in Broward County, Florida

39 months ago

I had an interview last week at this print job.It was bloody super awkward. I was first interviewed by this chic in HR, few minutes in the owner comes in the room. Once settled he is looking up and down my resume, tapping on my portfolio case with his pen, heavy breathing in and out, all this between asking me questions. Namely, "what have you been doing between the times you aren't working?".

My resume doesn't have the back to back jobs. Each of my positions I have 1 year between finding a new one. Then a 2 year gap before finding another one. At the time I was to comfortable in my positions to look for work while I had work. Or I tried looking for work but they were mostly freelancing.

Basically the owner told me straight out that my work history doesn't look very good. It was inconsistent. Of all the interviews I've been on, I have never had anyone tell me that. Smh...on top of that asking me what I was paid for each position and writing them down (which is none of their business).

But what got me was the tapping on the case the whole time. That was pretty rude and annoying along with the heavy breathing.

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MonteCarloCarFan in Broward County, Florida

39 months ago

^Crap I put this on the wrong thread! And this no delete button ugh!!!

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edward black in Dallas, Texas

32 months ago

Robert Meeks in Winchester, Kentucky said: (continued from previous post)

Looking at being a caregiver as a sabbatical or time off (being unemployed or anything else like that) is an extreme understatement.

I was my mother's caregiver in the final years of her life. She had Parkinson's disease and developed worsening dementia and paranoia as tgive up working due to the difficulty of leaving her alone for any length of time.

Being a caregiver is an extreme responsibility for which a good number of people are simply "glad it's not me".

Caregiving requires, and develops, tolerance, organization, and commitment. Somebody who can be someone's caregiver has often seen more challenges in caregiving than than many people will ever see at work.

Don't look at caregiving as something you want to hide about yourself or as something which doesn't count. List the time you spent caring for your mother and the capabilities which qualified you as a person to take care of her, as well qualities you brought out of that experience.

Present yourself first as the person you are, and believe in that person. Present your work, school, and caregiving history in a chronological manner, supplemental to your skills and capabilities.

Yes, regardless how you present yourself, how you organize your resume, there are those who will look at it for what they want to see it as and discard it regardless; those people are who they are and there will be others who look at it and will want to talk to you.

Don't fear the people who may not want you; ignore them.

When I list my job history chronologically, I list it first by my job title and job description, then for whom I worked and when.

Those are just some hints, good or bad, but most important is for you to believe in yourself and present yourself as that person you believe yourself to be. Some will try, but don't you let them tear down your belief in yourself.[/Q How would you word the time as a caregi

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xboxer in Tucson, Arizona

32 months ago

When employers ask this, I don't think there is any appeasing them. It is what it is.

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Susie in Toronto, Ontario

29 months ago

equality101 in Georgia said: I know for a fact I was eliminated from a position when I was out of work due to a gap. I had a close friend pass my resume on to the hiring manager. My friend told me that he looked at my resume and said that I had good skills, but that being out of work for 8 months would make my skills stale. Of course he added it to his file, but I never got called.

Very ridiculous - resume stale because of an 8 month gap. It tells me that these recruiters are following guidelines only without have any thoughts on their own when assessing someone's capabilities.

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WyseChrJw in Pomona, California

20 months ago

My heart goes out to all of you.

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WyseChrJw in Pomona, California

20 months ago

I hope all of you found jobs and/or come to terms with the conditions of your lives.
I have been out of work for 4 years. I had a 25 year IT career up to 4 years ago. I left the last job due
to being bullied, and tried to recover from it emotionally for several months. I also spent some time with my
wife researching a book project for over 2 years, which was a grueling process. I had some money from an
inheritance (not a lot), but it carried us for a couple of years. I also helped her managed (remotely) several rental properties in Houston Texas (which since then all foreclosed).

Then my significant other passed away a year ago, and I have been in a crisis since then. To be honest I am trying to get back to my previous career, but not whole heartedly and I probably applied on line to like 200 positions, and despite the fact that I am capable of doing most of those jobs, I have been rejected because I could not properly frame the gap on my resume.

I now decided to try and fill the gap with some combination of the activites I described above on my resume.
BTW, in the interim, during the last 6 months I was driving UBER, Postmates and the like to make ends meet.

Any feedback/suggested are welcome.

Anyways. God bless all of you.

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Matt V in San Antonio, Texas

20 months ago

I truly hope you are able to get back on your feet and re-enter your prior career. I understand that regaining "footing" in an industry after time off may be difficult, and here's my take on how to attack the application process in your situation:

Part of the framework of your resume does have to do with how you come across to potential employers. Don't highlight or bring attention to your career gap. Inject the projects you completed during the gap into your resume such as "researched an co-authored a reference book about..." and "managed rental properties remotely..." and even "contracted driving services through..."(UBER). Although perhaps these may appear irrelevant to the industry you are applying to, there are always ways to spin and phrase the experiences to shed light on relevant skills that they demonstrate. Include them in categories with phrasing like "Professional Development", "Projects/Skills", "Other Experience", and the like. And if not on your resume, ESPECIALLY include these in cover letters and prepared interview answers.

Secondly, if you feel like you hit a wall with this issue, I highly suggest having someone else look over your resume. Experience and skills that appear irrelevant, descriptions that are hard to phrase, and even how to construct the framework of your resume are all things that can be approached with fresh eyes and an "outsider's" perspective.

- Seek outplacement services, resume writing services, and recruitment services.
www.letseatgrandma.com
is one example of a service which connects writers with relevant industry knowledge with job seekers (I actually had my resume and cover letter done here).

Best of luck!

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realism37 in Georgia

19 months ago

If you have a section on your resume that states the reasoning for your gap, why do they still question it? I mean it should be pretty self explanatory, unless one cannot read.

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