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How Should I Address Gaps in Work History on My Resume?

I have a few gaps in my work experience. I took some time off to raise my children, and then there was another period after I was laid off from a position.  How should I handle these gaps on my resume?

Trying to Bridge the Gap

It's completely normal to have gaps on your resume. What's important is being transparent about these time periods and position yourself overall so that these gaps don't overshadow your impressive experience. Here are a few specific tips to address any gaps in your work experience:

1)    Be clear about gaps in your cover letter. The cover letter provides a logical place to provide an explanation for any time between positions listed on your resume, as well as a way to position this information in the context of the full story of your fit and interest in a role.

2)    Don't try to mask gaps with a functional resume. Stick with the timeline approach of a chronological resume to ensure that your resume is easy to follow and doesn't require the reader to hunt for basic information like specific places of employment or dates employed. If your "employment story" isn't clear, the reader will assume that there is something you are trying to hide.

3)    Think about how you spent your time between positions, and communicate this in your resume. If you had a pro bono consulting job, volunteered, or participated in some other community activity, list this in your work experience. If you did any special training or earned a certificate or degree during this time, add this information to the education section of your resume. Include dates so that it's clear when these activities occurred.

Following these tips will allow you to present gaps in a positive and transparent light. In the end, it's not about the fact that you've had gaps in your employment; it's about being clear about gaps, communicating how you used your time in between jobs, and turning a gap into an asset whenever possible.

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This article was written by Dana Hagenbuch.