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Job Search Basics: How to Address A Career Gap in Your Resume

Many of us have experienced a career break for various reasons. Maybe you needed time off to care for someone from your family, maybe you decided to move abroad and needed more time to find a new job or you just wanted to stay at home and take care of your young children for a while. Medical reasons are often a reason for career break too.

Whatever your reason was, first of all, do not feel ashamed or embarrassed about it. Second, do address your employment break in your CV in an honest and professional way - the worst thing you can do is to lie about it. Many recruiters or employers will understand your situation, but, yes, there will be still those who will maybe reject your application because of it. This is the sad truth; however, I guarantee you that you wouldn’t want to work for the company that doesn’t treat you as a human being anyway. 

So, how should you write about your employment gap in your resume?

1.   Call it simple – a sabbatical. Write how many months or years you were out of the job market and give a short, but an honest explanation of why.

2.   Try to remember if you did something during your break that actually helped your professional development in any way. For instance – maybe you took a language course, or pursued a certification, or wrote something useful for your industry. This helps your image and shows your effort to stay up to date career-wise.

3.   If your absence was due to illness, do not go in too many details. Just explain that you had a health issue that you managed to overcome or put under control. The message you should send is that you are fully ready to work again.

4.   If you got fired or you lost your job due to reasons out of your control, again, be honest about it. Explain shortly how this happened. Also, mention what you did in the meantime to keep your skills up to date.

You probably get it – the point is to move the attention from the reasons for your absence to the positive things you accomplished while you’ve been without a job. If the career gap is happening to you right now because you are having difficulties finding the right job, consider volunteering for a while. This will give you a purpose and maybe make your job search more bearable. In any case, try not to lose contact with your industry and follow what is happening as much as you can.

Having a professional break could be a good thing because you have time to stop and reflect on where your career is heading and is it the path you want to follow or change something about it. Be proactive and invest in yourself and your knowledge as much as you can. And remember, stay positive!



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