How To Explain A Resume Gap (Dun Dun Dun DUN!)

How To Explain A Resume Gap (Dun Dun Dun DUN!)

Ever wondered how to explain a resume gap?

The dreaded questions which starts like this: “Tell me….Why do you have a gap on your resume?”

It can drive you crazy and fill you with shame. What if “they” find out that you weren’t working for a period of time?

They could draw all sorts of conclusions….right?

  • You got fired
  • You got laid-off
  • You quit your job but couldn’t find another one
  • You are sketchy
  • You are unemployable!
  • You are 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 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?  Were you doing something necessary, like taking care of a family member, that easily explains your time away?  Are you ready to come back to work?  Do you talk about your break in a non-negative way? (No one likes a downer).


If you took a break by choice, 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 stepped away to care for an sick family member.  I wanted to make sure that they were going to be okay.  Now the situation is resolved and we have great care in place, so I’m ready to come back.”

“I took time off and while I was away I 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 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!”

“My company changed direction and it was time to part ways.  I learned a lot while there, and while I’ve been looking for something new I’ve also been learning xyz new skill which I think is relevant to this job opportunity here!”

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!

Stuck in your job? Need a kick in the pants to get unstuck? Sign up for free over here and get started!