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How to handle resume gaps

The Hiring Process Resumes and Cover Letters


I have a gap in my resume. I know you should never lie on a resume, so how do I handle it?


You’re right, you should never, ever lie on your resume. But do put the best face on the truth: tell your story as positively as you can.

The best way to handle your gap depends largely on how long a gap it is, and the reason you have it.

Generally, work experience lists only the years; you usually don’t have to include the months you worked in a particular place. That will take care of most gaps of less than two years.

If your gap was longer than that, think about what you were doing in that time. Surely you didn’t spend the whole time watching Netflix or browsing the web.

Did you take any classes? Get any certifications? If so, list your job title as “Student,” and put the years you were in school. If you were an intern, then use “Intern” plus the job title at the company you interned for. List your accomplishments in that role.

If you were a stay-at-home parent, you can use something like “Home Manager” for the job title. Focus, again, on any accomplishments, as well as skills you learned. Think carefully about this; stay-at-home parents accomplish a lot and acquire many transferable skills that they tend not to take (or get) credit for.

Suppose you were taking care of a sick relative or friend. The job title would be something like “Caretaker,” and again you’ll list what you learned and accomplished. (If the application asks why you left that job, consider something like “Family situation, since resolved.”)

What if you just needed a long time to find a job? It happens. A few months feels like a lifetime in the job search, but it often takes a while to find the right position. Most employers understand that; if they don’t, you may not want to work for that person anyway.

If your situation isn’t covered above, it may be time to talk with one of our career coaches They can give you good advice on your job search so that gap doesn’t get any longer. Connect with us today to get started!


About the Author

Beth Davis-Reinhold

Beth Davis-Reinhold is an instructor at Frederick County Workforce Services, where she has worked for over 20 years. She teaches job search seminars and basic computer skills. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer, and is Internet and Computing Core Certified (IC3). Beth has been a member of Toastmasters International for more than 15 years, and is an Advanced Communicator Silver. A graduate of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Beth has also studied American Sign Language for many years. In addition to many sundry projects for FCWS, Beth writes its “Ask the Career Coach” blog.