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Career potholes: How to explain gaps in your resume

Check out our examples to help you explain the gaps in your resume

Career potholes: How to explain gaps in your resume

From time to time, you might find yourself out of work. When this happens, it’s important to address longer periods of unemployment in your resume. Employers don’t like to see gaps in your employment without an explanation.

So check out our guide (and examples) to explaining gaps in your resume in an interview.

When do you need to address a gap in your resume?

Not all gaps in employment need an explanation. As a rule of thumb, if you’re unemployed for less than 3 months, you shouldn’t need an explanation. It’s quite common for people to be unemployed for 1-3 months in between jobs. But if you out of work for longer than 3 months, you should probably explain why on your resume.

Tips for explaining gaps in employment

Include your gaps in your resume

When you’ve had a gap in employment longer than 3 months, include this in your resume. If you don’t explain it, employers will be left with lots of questions. And they may reject your resume because of this. Instead, write the dates of your unemployment, and provide a short sentence to explain the reason. This will help employers understand the gap and progress your application.

Be honest

We’re all human. And employers appreciate honesty. They can often tell when you’re not being honest. So always be upfront about your reasons for unemployment. It’s the honesty that counts.

Put a positive spin on it

A gap in employment doesn’t have to be negative. It could actually be really positive. Perhaps it gave you clarity about your next step. Or maybe it gave you time to upskill. Either way, think of all the ways you can show employers the benefits you received from your time out of work.

6 examples of how to explain a gap in your resume


How to explain in your resume

“I took 6 months off work to travel around Central Asia.”

How to explain in an interview

“I went traveling for 6 months on my own around Central Asia. It was a really enriching experience and gave me a lot of life skills. It exposed me to other people’s way of living, which is priceless.”

Carer responsibilities

How to explain in your resume

“Full-time carer for a family member.”

How to explain in an interview

“Unfortunately, a member of my family was sick and required full-time care. I did my best to maintain my skills during this time by completing a course on Data Analysis. I would also attend monthly webinars to learn about the latest software and industry news. So although I wasn’t technically working in the industry, I still kept my finger on the pulse.”


How to explain in your resume

“Following the doctor’s orders, I was granted 4 months off to recover from a medical condition.”

How to explain in an interview

“I was dealing with a medical condition whilst working. But the condition only worsened. And so, after consulting with the doctor, he decided to put me on sick leave to aid my recovery.

Although I rested a lot during this time, I also made an effort to maintain my knowledge and skills and keep up with industry news. I knew that I’d return to work as soon as I felt healthy, so I didn’t want to fall behind too much.”

Looking for work

How to explain in your resume

“During these 4 months of unemployment, I was job hunting and attending regular interviews.”

How to explain in an interview

“I was fortunate enough to be able to take4 months of unemployment in between jobs. I really wanted to focus on finding the right role rather than jumping into any old job. I want to make sure my next career move is one for the long-term.”

Raising children

How to explain in your resume

“2 year career break for parenting responsibilities for my newborn.”

How to explain in an interview

“I have had 2 years off to raise my child. It’s been a great experience but I’m now ready to return to the working world.

I have built a portfolio and gained several skills and qualifications during my time in unemployment. For example, I recently completed an online course in safeguarding.”


How to explain in your resume

“I took 12 months out of work to dedicate to my studies. I completed an IT qualification and hope to pursue a career in this field.”

How to explain in an interview

“I spent the last 12 months studying for my IT qualification. I wanted to dedicate everything to my studies so I decided not to work.

It has paid off and I feel really confident in the knowledge and skills that I’ve learned in the last year. I’m now ready to put these skills to work for the right company.”

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