How to Explain Employment Gaps on Resumes [25 Tips]

Resume gaps are embarrassing and they can keep you from getting hired. How can you show you’re not a slacker? See this sample resume with gaps in employment and get hired fast.

How to Explain Employment Gaps on Resumes [25 Tips]

You’re about to see a great sample resume with gaps in employment.

 

But first—

 

Resume gaps can hurt your hiring chancesand make employers wonder.

 

“Is she an alcoholic? Flighty? Depressed? A convict?”

 

Let’s dispel that.

 

You can prove you’re worthy—even with employment gaps on a resume.

 

You just need to show there’s no gap in your skills.

 

In this guide:

  • A sample resume with gaps in employment better than most.
  • How fill in employment gaps on resumes convincingly.
  • Employment gaps on resume examples for sabbaticals, illness, death, depression, soul-searching, and career change.
  • How to explain gaps in employment on resumes so you get hired.

 

sample resume example

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Sample Resume with Gaps in Employment You Can Copy and Use

 

Jamie Kubat

IT Project Manager

 

Personal Info

 

Phone: 619-850-1396

E-mail: jamiezkubat@gmail.com

linkedin.com/in/jamiezkubat

twitter.com/jamiezkubat

 

Summary

 

Resourceful IT project manager with 4+ years of experience and 10 years of business experience. Seeking to increase IT project efficiency at Aegisdyne. At Ermschwender Aerospace, managed 200+ projects with Oracle Primavera P6. Slashed meeting times by 10 hrs/wk for each of 10+ engineers, saving $300,000 per year. Trained 3 IT staff.

 

Experience

 

Sabbatical, 2017–present

  • Took time off to be with family after loss of child.
  • Founded Southern California Chapter of Butterfly Legacy Foundation.
  • Handled all accounting and budgeting. Raised donations 50% in 1 yr.

 

IT Project Manager

Ermschwender Aerospace

2013–2017

  • Developed system to raise efficiency of requirements management. Slashed 10 meeting hours a week for 10+ engineers.
  • Managed 200+ projects with Oracle Primavera P6.
  • Onboarded and trained 3 new IT hires.
  • Worked with 10+ cross-functional teams to cut costs 20%.
  • Facilitated integration of customer software into our workflow. Contributed to 25% increase in repeat business.

 

Data Administrator

Ermschwender Aerospace

2009–2013

  • Raised documentation efficiency 43% through automation.
  • Administered two AS9100 certified databases with zero downtime.

 

Education

 

BS Computer Science, Soka University of America

2005–2009

  • Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Society.
  • Excelled in process development classes.

 

Additional Activities

 

  • Dedicated mother of two.
  • Mentor 15+ IT professionals.
  • Teach yoga 2x per week.

 

Conferences

 

  • 2019 — Pink 19 — Led presentation on creating custom software.
  • 2017 — IBM Think
  • 2016 — tabGeeks

 

Hard Skills: Project management, requirements management, Oracle Primavera P6, process development, user acceptance testing

 

Soft Skills: Leadership, interpersonal skills, communication, collaboration

 

That sample resume with employment gaps does one thing:

 

It shows the gap fast, with proof you used key skills.

 

Does the employment gap on your resume come from a career change? See this guide: Resume for a Career Change

 

Are you writing a resume for a specific career? See our step-by-step resume samples and guides for dozens of professions

 

Now here’s how to fill employment gaps in your resume:

 

1. Be Honest When Explaining Employment Gaps on Resumes

 

Just want the quick and dirty facts?

 

Here are the topline info for resume employment gaps on a resume:

 

How to Fill in Employment Gaps on Resumes

Do:
  • Be honest. The employer will learn of gaps in employment on your resume with a basic background check.
  • Be brief. Don’t agonize about the employment gap on your resume. Just show it and move on.
  • Be proactive. Show how the gap added to your skill set. See examples below.
  • Give the real reason for the job gap on your resume. Even if you think it’s silly, most employers won’t.
  • Assure employers the resume gap will not recur.
Don’t:
  • Worry about gaps shorter than 9 months. That’s not an employment gap. It just means you’re out of work!
  • Cover gaps with dates. Leaving the months off your work history looks like you’re hiding something.
  • Lie about the employment gap on your resume by saying you were saving kittens or working on a cure for cancer. Hiring teams can smell lies through a brick wall.
  • Ignore a gap in employment longer than 9 months, especially in a resume for unskilled jobs.

Next—

 

Let’s see some good reasons for gaps in employment.

 

Then I’ll give some employment gaps on resume examples.

Expert Hint: Don’t talk about the employment gap on your resume in a career summary or career objective. Save the top part of your resume for your brightest selling points.

2. Have Good Reasons for Gaps in Employment

 

Now the good news.

 

Hiring teams will care what you went through.

 

They won’t think less of you. But—

 

Give a good reason for employment gaps on your resume. Here are five:

 

Good Reasons for Gaps in Employment

 

  • Illness. Were you or a loved one sick or injured? That’s a legit reason for a gap in employment on a resume.
  • Death. Never be ashamed of an employment gap on your resume after a loved one dies.
  • Tragedy. Miscarriage or other misfortune are legitimate reasons for employment gaps on resumes.
  • Soul searching. Finding your path in life is noble and worthwhile. Many employers respect it.
  • Tried a different career. Did you test the waters, then come back to your roots? That’s human. Hiring teams are human too.

 

The key?

 

Don’t just give your reason.

 

Show the employment gap on your resume bore fruit to help with your next job.

 

And—

 

Assure them it’s a one-time thing.

Expert Hint: Put extra skills proof in your education resume section. An honors society or big project helps a lot in a resume with employment gaps.

3. Show the Employment Gap on Your Resume in Your Experience Section

 

Where should you put resume gaps?

 

The right place to show an employment gap on a resume is in your work history.

 

List it as a sabbatical, and show three things:

 

  1. List the start and end dates of the employment gap on your resume.
  2. Give the reason for your resume employment gap.
  3. Show you did something positive for your skill set in that time.

 

In other words?

 

You need to show you weren’t just eating bon-bons.

 

These employment gaps on resume examples show how:

 

Imagine the job ad wants skills in leadership, system development, Oracle Primavera P6, training, and working with cross-functional teams.

 

Employment Gap on a Resume—Experience Section

Good Example

Experience

 

Sabbatical, 2017–present

  • Took time off to be with family after loss of child.
  • Founded Southern California Chapter of Butterfly Legacy Foundation.
  • Handled all accounting and budgeting. Raised donations 50% in 1 yr.

 

IT Project Manager

Ermschwender Aerospace

2013–2017

  • Developed system to raise efficiency of requirements management. Slashed 10 meeting hours a week for 10+ engineers.
  • Managed 200+ projects with Oracle Primavera P6.
  • Onboarded and trained 3 new IT hires.
  • Worked with 10+ cross-functional teams to cut costs 20%.
  • Facilitated integration of customer software into our workflow. Contributed to 25% increase in repeat business.
Bad Example

Experience

 

IT Project Manager

Ermschwender Aerospace

2013–2017 (2 years ago)

  • Responsible for creating system to raise efficiency of requirements management.
  • Managed IT projects.
  • Worked with teams to cut costs.
  • Facilitated integration of customer software into our workflow.

See that?

 

You were up-front about your gap.

 

You also showed the leadership skill they want—in the employment gap on your resume!

 

You proved other skills in your work history. You customized your resume.

 

Think they’ll hold that gap against you? Nope.

Expert Hint: Put “other” sections in your resume with skills the job wants. Certifications or conferences you spoke at can help outweigh employment gaps on resumes.

4. More Employment Gaps on Resume Examples

 

Need more?

 

See the employment gaps on resume examples below.

 

Each one touts a skill shown in the job ad.

 

Each also says the employment gap on your resume is in the past.

 

Car accident gaps in employment on resume:

 

Experience

 

Sabbatical, 2017–present

  • Time off to recover from car accident.
  • Was able to return to trail running 2x per week.
  • Took Lynda class in bookkeeping.

 

Cancer gap in employment on your resume:

 

Experience

 

Sabbatical, 2017–present

  • Time off to fight cancer diagnosis.
  • Declared cancer free.
  • Worked towards CompTIA A+ certification.

 

Soul searching resume employment gap:

 

Experience

 

Sabbatical, 2017–present

  • Time off to find career path.
  • Worked as video kayaker on Class V rivers in West Virginia.
  • Used teamwork and problem-solving skills to sell 25% more videos than company average.
  • Settled on remote accounting work as ideal career.

 

Tried different career employment gap on resume:

 

Experience

 

Software Engineer, 2017–present

  • Developed 20+ client apps and websites.
  • Collaborated with team of 10 to raise UX scores 18%.
  • Gained insights about back-end work to fuel my marketing career.

 

See that?

 

Each of those employment gaps on resume examples does two things:

 

  1. It shows your gap helped build key skills.
  2. It says the gap is history.

 

5. Choose the Right Resume Format for Employment Gaps on Resumes

 

Awkward.

 

You filled the employment gap on your resume. But—

 

You used the wrong resume format.

 

Don’t make that mistake.

 

Use the reverse-chronological layout to put everything above board.

 

Employment Gaps on Resume Format

 

  • Use a single-page resume with one-inch margins.
  • Write with Didot, Cambria, or another trusted resume font in 10–12pt.
  • Make resume sections like Heading, Summary, Experience, Education, and Skills.
  • Add white space to let it breathe.
  • Save PDF copies. PDF resumes travel well to different employers.

Expert Hint: You can also try a functional resume or combination resume to spotlight your skills and not your history. Beware—some recruiters don’t like functional resumes.

6. Stop Your Next Gap in Employment Before it Starts

 

The best advice?

 

Don’t have another employment gap on your resume.

 

“But my resume gap was unavoidable.”

 

Not really.

 

The minute you’re out of work—

  • Do some consulting. Use your skills to do a few hours of week of work.
  • Volunteer. You’ll build transferable skills like teamwork or leadership.
  • Freelance. Take on a small project here or there.
  • Enroll in an online class. Lynda classes make great filler for employment gaps on a resume.

Expert Hint: You don’t need a full-time job to fill in a resume job gap. Even four or five hours a week of volunteering can help save face for your career.

Key Points

 

Here’s how to fill in employment gaps on resumes:

  • Use the employment gap on resume template up top. It puts your resume employment gap in the right place.
  • Show a skill or two you used during the employment gap on your resume. Make it a skill the new job wants.
  • If you accomplished something impressive, show it. Add numbers to make it real.
  • Reassure employers the gap in employment on your resume was a one-time thing and won’t repeat.

 

Got questions on how to fill employment gaps on a resume? Need more employment gaps on resume examples? We’ll be happy to reply!

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Tom Gerencer
Career Writer at ResumeLab
Tom Gerencer is a career advice writer and a resume expert at ResumeLab. Tom has been featured on BBC News, NBC, The Economist, Business Insider, Fast Company, and dozens of other outlets. His insights, commentary, and articles reach over a million readers every month. With inside knowledge of key industry players and in-depth research, Tom helps job seekers with advice across all professions and career stages. Tom holds a degree in English from Colby College.

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