Career Advice

Employment Gaps: How to Explain them On a Resume and in an Interview

The most important thing to understand if there’s an employment gap in your career history is that you aren’t alone. The majority of people who are of employment age have experienced unemployment at some point in their lives, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In this post, we go over best practices for explaining employment gaps during interviews.

What exactly is an employment gap?

Employment gaps are times in your professional life when you were not actively working, either voluntarily or unavoidably. Any period of unemployment that exceeds six months ought to be regarded as such. If you fail to clarify your explanation for your employment gap and the work experience you earned during that period, employment gaps on your CV can be grounds for concern.

You could have an employment gap for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Looked after an ill member of the family
  • You took care of your children at home
  • Had medical or health problems
  • Pursued a degree or other form of professional training.
  • Relocated or traveled to a new place
  • A layoff or termination
  • Actively looked for a new career but was unable to find one that fit

How to Discuss Employment Gaps

A few simple rules for how to address employment gaps during an interview are as follows:

1. Be ready to discuss it

You are unlikely to be prevented from getting through the interview stage if your CV contains a gap. However, future employers will demand an explanation. Spend some time in advance figuring out how to fill the gap in an approach that exudes confidence and optimism.

2. Be truthful

You should be honest without providing superfluous details. Your response could start with something like this: “I [explain the reason you weren’t hired]. What you accomplished in that period [at the time of the gap]. During that time, going back to work was foremost in my mind, and I’m prepared to do so today.”

Here are various causes of employment gaps as well as illustrations of how to use that template in your particular circumstance:

If you quit your job to become a caregiver

“I served as my family’s main caregiver for a while. I was able to support my family during that period, but I always realized I wanted to go back to work. Now I’m prepared to carry that through.”

If you got laid off

“My job was removed as a result of restructuring at my prior workplace. It was a tough period, to be perfectly honest. However, I departed with the knowledge that I had gained crucial skills there and solidified ties with my superiors and coworkers. I’m eager for the chance to use those experiences in the position that comes next.”

If you lost your job

“The organization and I had conflicting expectations.” I’ve since come to the realization that there were several things I might have done better during that encounter. I gained a lot of knowledge, and I’m eager for the chance to apply that level of maturity to my next position.”

If you have a personal leave of absence

“I had the opportunity to take a while off work to take care of myself. It was a period that helped me get ready to face new difficulties. The prospects that lay ahead, like this position, have me very pumped.”

3. Close the gap

You don’t have to go into information about what led to your employment gap, but you should describe what you did during that time.

Mention any articles you read to stay current with the field, how you kept in touch with coworkers, or what you did to get ready for your comeback. Include any freelancing employment, volunteer or community jobs undertaken, workshops or events went to, or any other ways that you have improved your professional abilities. Even though you haven’t had a formal job, the point is to demonstrate that you have been actively involved.

4. Be succinct and leave if necessary.

A lot of individuals take time off for various causes. Sometimes, these motives are private and something you would rather not share.

Refocus the conversation on your willingness and capacity to do the duties of the job you are applying for once you have discussed the gap and described the things you did in that period. Once you’ve provided an answer to their inquiry, you can accomplish this by asking your interviewer a question.

You can choose to comment, “I’d rather not go into further detail,” if the conversation takes a turn that you find unsettling. But I’m really eager to talk about my professional background.” You might then include another work-related anecdote that demonstrates your qualifications for the post.

Saying, “I’m uncomfortable with the direction our conversation is going so this might not be an appropriate fit, I appreciate your time,” is a perfectly acceptable way to end the interview at any point.

Additional methods for discussing employment gaps

Consider the various things you did during that time when you talk about employment gaps on your resume. Even if it’s not required, it helps if it has some connection to the position you’re interviewing for.

In the end, the hiring supervisor is interested in knowing that despite your brief absence from formal employment, you continued to be productive and, ideally, developed your abilities. The following list of employment gaps includes explanations for each type of recruiting manager:

Caregiver or parent who stays at home

This job gap gives you the chance to talk about any transferable talents you may have learned or honed, even if you didn’t gain any work experience as a stay-at-home parent or caretaker. The stages to explaining a job gap in this situation are as follows:

1. Consider the experience

Consider what this time of unemployment has enabled you to achieve before you respond. It’s simpler to convey this confidently during the interview when you feel you made the best choice to take a job break given the conditions at the time.

2. Prepare your response.

Think about how you want to respond to inquiries about this employment gap so that you can respond professionally and remain composed. Write down your response, practice it, or test it out on a reliable friend or relative.

3. Adapt your response to the job.

Find ways, where appropriate, to emphasize your qualifications for the position you’re looking for. You may, for instance, describe how this work gap allowed you to improve your planning, organization, and communication abilities.

4. Pay attention to the future

Despite the fact that it’s crucial to describe your activities during a period of unemployment, you also need to convey a desire to return to the workplace. For instance, you could remark, “I’m pleased I had the opportunity to dedicate time to taking excellent care of my mother because she had terminal cancer. I’m now anticipating returning to a job for which I have a lot of interest.” Just enough information should be provided for them to grasp the problem before moving on. Give recruiting managers a straightforward response, but keep your attention on the future.

Medical leave

You don’t need to reveal too much personal information, even though you might feel awkward discussing the medical reason you were off work. The steps to discussing a medical leave work gap are as follows:

1. Get your response ready beforehand

Prior to speaking, consider what you would like to say. This can assist you in coming up with a better response on the interview day.

2. Keep it basic

Give your potential employer a brief explanation of your medical leave without jeopardizing your privacy. For instance, “I took care of a medical issue I had, but I’m eager to get back into the workforce.”

I took care of a health problem I had, but I’m excited to return to work. You can provide detail about the dates that you had time off but try to stay away from being very particular about the illness you had.

3. Highlight your qualifications and experience

After giving them a brief explanation of your medical leave, return to talking about your skills for the position you are interviewing for. Make sure that in your present state of physical and mental well-being, you are still able to use your skills.


Even while being laid off may be upsetting, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about it when talking to potential employers. The steps to explaining a layoff-related employment gap are as follows:

1. Be truthful

It’s crucial to be entirely honest, regardless of the kind of employment gap you encountered. Given the state of the labor market, there is a significant likelihood that hiring managers will be sympathetic when it pertains to unemployment. To build a professional rapport built on dignity and integrity right away, be truthful about the layoff.

2. Speak up for yourself

If you experienced a layoff, try to mention it at the outset of the interview to ensure that you can quickly move on to your pertinent qualifications. Discussing the layoff on your own initiative demonstrates your self-assurance and sincerity.

3. Include numbers

Make a factual case for your dismissal from the organization if it resulted from downsizing or restructuring by presenting recruiting managers with the number. Tell the hiring manager if, for instance, 40% of your team was put off, or if you got laid off alongside 99 other employees. By doing this, you can divert focus from yourself and demonstrate to the recruiting manager that you were not the only person to be let go.

4. Display your added value.

Hiring managers want to know that potential hires can contribute significantly to their business. If you were fired from your former position, emphasize what you managed to do for the business while you were still working there. This demonstrates to potential employers that despite being let go, you had a good impact on the business during the time you spent there.

5. Describe the lessons you took away from your employment gap.

Though it’s crucial to give a concise, precise response, consider what you discovered throughout your employment break. Describe your career-enhancing activities throughout this time, like volunteering or attending classes to improve or hone your skills.

Reasons for employment Gaps

There can be several reasons for employment gaps on a person’s resume. While some reasons may be personal and specific to an individual’s circumstances, here are some common factors that can contribute to employment gaps:

  • Career Transition or Job Change: Taking time off between jobs to explore new career paths, switch industries, or pursue further education or training.
  • Personal or Family Obligations: Taking a break from work to care for newborn or young children, support a family member’s health needs, or address personal matters.
  • Relocation: Moving to a new city or country can result in an employment gap as individuals may need time to settle, find suitable job opportunities, or adapt to the new environment.
  • Health Issues: Dealing with personal health challenges or taking time off for medical reasons can lead to gaps in employment.
  • Sabbatical or Travel: Opting to take a planned break from work to recharge, engage in personal growth activities, travel, or pursue passion projects.
  • Layoffs or Company Restructuring: Experiencing job loss due to layoffs, downsizing, or organizational changes can result in employment gaps while searching for new job opportunities.
  • Entrepreneurship or Freelancing: Taking a hiatus from traditional employment to start a business, work as a freelancer, or pursue self-employment opportunities.
  • Further Education or Skill Development: Dedication to expanding knowledge and skills by pursuing higher education, attending professional development programs, or acquiring certifications.

It’s important to note that employment gaps are common and not necessarily viewed negatively by employers. When addressing employment gaps, individuals can emphasize the skills and experiences gained during that time, highlight any volunteer work or side projects undertaken, or provide a brief explanation in their cover letter or interview, focusing on the positive aspects and growth achieved during the gap.

What To Do If You Have Employment Gaps On Your Resume

When you submit a job application, it’s critical to provide hiring managers with a consistent quantity of work experience. If the interviewer brings up any employment gaps on your résumé, you must honestly and tactfully explain them. You can discuss your extracurricular activities, such as charity work or unique initiatives, in addition to how passionate you feel about your career.

Why should you discuss employment gaps on your resume?

If you don’t go into detail about your employment gaps, recruiters can draw their own conclusions about why you took a break from the working. Explaining your employment gaps can assist them comprehend what you did to advance your career during this time.

It’s crucial to use this chance to give potential employers the clarification they need since you might not have mentioned what you accomplished during your employment gap on your CV. Having the chance to discuss any pertinent abilities or expertise you acquired throughout the period could make a big impact on the interview and recruitment procedure, even if you don’t think an employment gap makes the best first impression.

Advice on how to explain employment gaps

Use these extra pointers to assist you make the most of the circumstances throughout your interview and hiring procedure now that you are aware of how to handle various kinds of employment gaps:

Stay optimistic

You cannot erase your prior employment history, but you may demonstrate to potential employers what you have to offer as an employed professional. Bring up your strengths throughout the interview and keep a positive attitude regarding your future path. Consider putting a summary of credentials at the beginning of your resume to emphasize your key accomplishments that are relevant to the position you applied for.

Put the appropriate dates on your CV.

Include the accurate dates for all of your professional experiences on your resume if you’ve experienced employment gaps. Employers can confirm your job history, and providing accurate dates also demonstrates your honesty. If you change any dates, the hiring manager might learn about it later, which could have negative consequences like firing.

Concentrate on the lessons you have learned.

Even while you might not have picked up any professional knowledge while there was a void in your career, you might have picked up some new skills or done some freelancing work. Focusing on these achievements demonstrates to hiring managers your desire to stay current and relevant in your field. It also demonstrates how committed you are to your profession. You can also devote time to honing any soft skills that are transferable, like leadership, time management, and organization.


In conclusion, employment gaps are a natural part of many individuals’ career journeys and should not be seen as a cause for concern or judgment. Life circumstances and personal choices often contribute to these gaps, and they can provide valuable opportunities for personal growth, skill development, or pursuing new ventures. It is important for individuals to approach employment gaps with confidence and a positive mindset, emphasizing the experiences and skills gained during those periods.

Employers are increasingly understanding and open to hearing the story behind employment gaps, and what matters most is how individuals effectively communicate their value, readiness, and eagerness to contribute to the workforce. Ultimately, career paths are diverse and unique to each person, and employment gaps can be seen as stepping stones on the journey toward professional fulfillment and success.

Frequently Asked Questions about Employment Gaps

  • Are functional resumes appropriate?

Typically, when you utilize a functional resume, hiring managers assume you might be hiding something. As a result, utilize a functional resume if you are someone with a sparse work history and numerous career gaps.

  • Should you include a cover letter with your resume rather than a conventional resume?

The key details of a conventional resume are presented to hiring managers in a narrative fashion in a resume cover letter. It’s advisable to stay away from a resume cover letter entirely because the employer will probably want to look at the CV nevertheless, despite the fact that it can assist you avoid any work gaps.

  • Do you have to mention temporary positions?

While you can list temporary jobs on your resume to demonstrate that you have experience, try to stay away from anything that does not directly connect to the position that you applied for. Include any temporary jobs that did not advance your professional development in this area.

  • How should I address employment gaps on my resume or during job interviews?

When addressing employment gaps on your resume, consider using a functional or combination resume format that focuses on skills and achievements rather than specific dates. In job interviews, be prepared to discuss the reasons behind your employment gaps honestly and positively. Highlight any relevant activities or experiences during that time, such as freelance work, volunteering, or skill development. Emphasize how you utilized the gap to grow personally or professionally and how it has prepared you for the role you are applying for.

  • Will employers view employment gaps negatively and consider them as red flags?

While some employers may inquire about employment gaps, they are often understanding and open to hearing the reasons behind them. Many individuals experience employment gaps for valid and legitimate reasons such as personal obligations, career transitions, or further education. Employers are interested in assessing your skills, qualifications, and potential contributions to their organization. Focus on highlighting the skills and experiences gained during your employment gap, demonstrating your readiness and enthusiasm to re-enter the workforce and contribute to the company’s success.

Remember, each person’s situation is unique, and employers recognize that employment gaps are a part of many career paths. The key is to address the gaps proactively, showcase your growth and experiences during that time, and present yourself as a valuable candidate based on your overall qualifications and potential.

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