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How to Explain a Gap in Your Resume

Recruiters want to see evidence that you are a reliable individual who is capable of holding down a job. However, that doesn't mean that you are destined to never get a job if you have a gap in your resume. It is possible to overcome and even spin a period of unemployment in a positive way when trying to find a job.

Don't try to hide it

Do not attempt to cover up the period when you weren't working. Lying about dates of employment is a bad idea, as recruiting companies are likely to find out that you lied when they check your references. Some job seekers with long out-of-work periods are tempted to remove dates from their resume altogether, but this is also not a good strategy. According to Susan Ireland, author of "The Complete Idiots Guide to the Perfect Resume," recruiters often become suspicious when they receive a resume with no dates listed.

Account for time out

Being up front about gaps in your resume means that you have to explain them. Again, honesty is the best policy. If you took time away from work to take care of your family, you can list this in the personal section of your resume. Similarly, if you left the workforce to recover from an illness or injury, say you did so, but remember that you don't have to go into great detail about your health. The most important thing is not to leave time unaccounted for, as this can be a red flag to a potential employer.

Accentuate the positive

If you were engaged in volunteer work, training or consulting projects, then emphasize this productive use of time on your resume and during interviews. Be ready to talk about the experiences you had and the skills that you acquired during this period. Unpaid work can be listed on your resume under a general "Experience" heading, but keep in mind that some experts advise against using the term "volunteer."

Talking about career gaps during interviews

During the interview, be open and acknowledge the gap, but focus on communicating your enthusiasm to get back into steady employment. Explain how the skills you gained both before and during your career break are relevant to the role for which you are applying. Learn to tell the story of your period of unemployment as a positive time of self-development, rather than dwelling on the circumstances that kept you out of work.

Keep a positive attitude

Many people expect to struggle to find a job after a career break. As a result, they are discouraged before they even start their search, especially with a gap in their resume. Don't fall into this trap! Update your resume to reflect the experiences you've had since your last position, network with old contacts to find out about opportunities and approach your job search with a positive attitude. Resume gaps are overcome everyday by motivated individuals who have something to offer an employer.