A gap on your resume – meaning you do not have constant employment throughout the timespan covered on your resume – used to be a red flag to employers. Luckily, times have changed: it is less and less common to work for the same company for years on end, the recession caused many to be unexpectedly laid off, and more and more non-traditional students are earning degrees later in life. Now, employment gaps are not as detrimental to the resume as they once were…but they can still be an issue!
First, consider the context of your employment gaps.
What were you doing during that time? If you were earning a degree, for example, then that time is not necessarily considered a gap. Consulting, freelancing, personal projects, and volunteering are all ways to fill in the employment gaps on your resume.
Next, think about the length of the gap.
Generally, the shorter the gap, the better. If your gap is only a few months, then rest assured that it should not prevent any future job offers. A gap of a few years may be a different story.
If your gap is significant and cannot be filled by other experience, consider explaining your resume gap on your cover letter. A short explanation will do – you do not need to tell specifics if they would be best left to the interview. If you stopped working to raise a family, for example, explaining this briefly in the cover letter should suffice. Alternatively, mentioning it on the resume as a “sabbatical” may work as well…and sometimes both solutions are best!
Finally, understand that gaps are not as uncommon as you might think.
As long as you are qualified and can convey that to the employer, an employment gap may not disqualify you for the position. The solution to employment gaps on the resume all depends on the situation!