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What to Do about Employment Gaps on Your Resume

by South University
November 4, 2013

In a perfect world, we’d all have resumes filled with years of relevant and continuous experience. In reality, many of our resumes do have gaps; perhaps we took time off work to go back to school, raise a family, or care for a sick relative, or maybe we were laid off due to circumstances beyond our control.

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However, with a little ingenuity and the ability to reframe your education and professional experience, you have nothing to worry about. Here’s what we recommend doing about those gaps.

Look on the Bright Side

In the aftermath of the recession, many of us are worried--perhaps excessively so--about how our resumes appear to prospective employers. Rather than spending time and energy thinking about what’s wrong with your resume, bolster your confidence by focusing on your applicable experience and what you can offer employers. Approaching your job hunt with a positive mindset will come through in your business-related communications.

Highlight Volunteer Experience

True, you may not have spent the last year (or two) in a formal project-management role, but maybe you’ve completed related duties in a volunteer setting. Have you led a committee for a club or organization? Have you donated your time and services to your child’s school? Volunteer experience is valuable not only in that it allows you to contribute to your community, but in that it shows your ongoing dedication to your vocation. In his piece for The Ladders, Marc Cenedella writes that job seekers should include volunteer experience on their resumes because this experience “entail[s] the same skill sets you used in business.”

Focus on Your Skills, Not Your Time Away

Employment gaps are less apparent if you put more emphasis on other parts of your resume, including your knowledge, skills and qualifications. Kim Isaacs, a resume expert, suggests starting with an Objective Statement to “summarize your goal as well as your top qualifications. This will draw attention to your selling points and downplay your work chronology.”

Explain Yourself

Your resume isn’t all potential employers consider. The cover letter is a powerful tool for communicating your skills, career goals and attitude. According to, instead of focusing on what you haven’t done, “talk about what you have done in your life to stay ready to work, and how your experiences have prepared you for the position to which you are applying.” For example, if you've been earning your degree at South University in your time off, make sure your potential employer is aware that you've been investing your energy in your education so that you're better prepared to succeed in your profession.

By following these tips, you’ll not only gain a new perspective on your job hunt: you’ll increase your marketability as well!

Tags: careers

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