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How to Excuse a Gap Between Jobs on a Resume

by Oubria Tronshaw

Job gaps on your resume don't have to be the death knell in your job search as long as you have a plausible explanation ready. Interviewers will be more likely to believe that you haven't been at home wasting your time, however, if you can prove you've used your hiatus in positive ways. In a CNN article, Jonathan Mazzocchi, general manager of Winter, Wyman & Co. in New York.,said once you've been out of a job for a month or more, its time to start volunteering or doing freelance work.

Life Issues

Be open with potential employers about whether unavoidable life events have kept you from working. Maybe you’ve been raising children, or caring for a loved one who was elderly or infirm, or perhaps you struggled with an illness yourself. Try not to explain your circumstances with an apologetic tone, as doing so might leave the impression that you lack confidence. Instead, maintain a positive attitude about your own experiences. If you honor your own life, potential employers will have no choice but to do the same.

Enrichment Activities

Employers are interested in all of your professional experiences, not just paying jobs. To excuse gaps in your employment history, include on your resume other relevant activities you have initiated or participated in the meantime, such as mentoring, consulting work, continuing education or additional training.

Camouflage

Some people try to hide large gaps in their employment with a functional, or skills-based resume that group work history based on similar skills and experience, instead of listing them in chronological order. However, Monster advises that skills-based resumes often alert employers to the exact issue you’re trying to hide. Use this format only if your work history is extremely spotty. A CNN.com article recommends “fudging without falsifying,” for example, instead of putting down that you worked at Carter International from June 2005 to January 2006, write "2005 - 2006." Grouping your work history in terms of years instead of months makes employment gaps less obvious.

Focus on the Positive

Don’t try to explain away employment gaps by making excuses in your interview. Doing so leaves the impression that you lack accountability, confidence and direction. Everybody makes mistakes, but bosses want to hire someone who knows how to make lemons out of lemonade. Talk to potential employers about the lessons you have learned, and how the experience of being out of work has ultimately made you a better employee. Focus on what you now know, that you would not have known otherwise. Cultivate a reputation for being reflective and optimistic.

About the Author

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.

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