April 8

5 Ways to Explain Common Resume Gaps

When recruiters and hiring managers come across gaps in employment on a resume, their instinct is to pass over it in favor of candidates with more complete work histories.

While employment gaps can put a job seeker at a disadvantage, it doesn’t automatically mean your resume will end up in the pass pile. Great resume writers, like those of SoCalResumes, can even create a narrative to spin time away from work into an advantageous position.

You Were Laid Off or Fired

Employers are typically sympathetic to candidates who’ve been laid off; after all, it’s a fairly regular occurrence in today’s job market to encounter someone who has lost their job as the result of the restructuring or downsizing of a department. A layoff isn’t reflective of your character or performance and the best strategy for handling one is to explain the situation of your previous company and focus on your accomplishments while employed there. If you were fired, the strategy is similar—spotlight the achievements you’re proud to have attained while employed.

Whether you were laid off or fired, the key is to stay positive. Fight the urge to bad mouth your former employer or boss, and instead focus on all the positive attributes you’ll bring to your new position.

You Took Time Away

There are a handful of reasons for people to step away from their careers. One increasingly common reason for a resume gap these days is travel. For a professional resume writer, a job seeker who has taken time off to travel is gold. In these cases, it’s important for candidates to explain the reasons for putting their careers on pause but their story lies within what they learned. The best resume writers will play up your travel experience to make you seem worldly and intellectually curious, along with spotlighting how your travel fueled personal growth.

While travel is a fantastic tool for creating a stand-out resume, it’s important to demonstrate to potential employers that you’re ready to return to work and excited about the new position.

You Upgraded Your Education

An employment gap resulting from going back to school is one of the simplest resume gaps to explain. After all, what employer isn’t interested in hiring an employee motivated to increase their knowledge, skill, and value? Whether it’s an MBA or a coding camp, a clever resume writer knows to highlight what drove you to further your education and how your new skills will benefit your new employer.

Even if your newly acquired skills aren’t a perfect fit with the position you’re applying for, spotlight soft skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication you recently honed and how they’ll benefit you and your potential new employer.

Health Reasons

The reality is that people get sick. Whether it’s you or a family member, taking time away from work to recover from an illness or injury is an acceptable reason for a resume gap. A simple, straightforward reason will suffice here, so avoid oversharing. Difficult situations, such as those resulting from health problems, are a great way to demonstrate personal growth. Emphasize what you learned from your health problem—like discovering an inner strength you never knew you possessed. Similarly, caring for a loved one also unearths hidden skills and develops new ones.

A smart resume writing service will encourage you to assuage any doubts a recruiter or hiring manager may have. Emphasize that the health problems are in the past and you’re excited about the future, particularly the position you’re applying for.


Children are a fact of life for many employees and more and more workplaces are making efforts to become more parent-friendly. Most potential employers will not penalize you for putting your career on hold to prioritize your family. Plus, ask any parent about the soft skills needed to raise a child—responsibility, communication, decisiveness, commitment, and negotiation all spring immediately to mind.

The key when explaining a resume gap resulting from parenting is brevity—you put your family first, but you’re ready to re-enter the workforce and continue growing your career. Accentuate why you’re excited about the position you’re applying to and what skills you bring to the table.

Wrapping Up Resume Gaps

If you don’t explain resume gaps to potential employers, they’ll come to their own conclusions for your extended unemployment. The best resume writers understand that a resume gap represents an opportunity to tell a story, not an adversity to overcome. Working with a professional resume writer is a great way to turn your time away into a tale of growth and development. Most importantly, it’s a fantastic chance to grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.

If you need assistance crafting an eye-catching narrative about your time away, how it made you a better employee, and why an employer should hire you, contact SoCalResumes today!

I help Southern California professionals ditch their outdated resume and job search approaches to land their dream job quickly and effectively.

Ready to stop spinning your wheels and transform the way you present yourself?

Get started by booking a free consultation. 

Ashley Milano - SoCal Resumes


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