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Mind The Gap!


If you’ve ever been to London you’re probably familiar with “Mind The Gap”.

The signs and announcements are everywhere throughout the Underground / Subway system. They, of course, are a warning to be careful of the gap between the trains and the platform when you’re getting into or out of one of the cars.

When you’re writing your resume, it’s important to Mind The Gaps there as well.

Unexplained gaps between employment on a resume can be a red flag to a recruiter or hiring manager. How to minimize the negative effects on your resume will vary depending on your individual circumstances. Here are a few observations and ideas that may be of help:

  • If your longest gap is now… don’t worry!  If you are to have a longer gap than normal on your resume, this is probably one of the best times to have it. A gap of a few months or even a year right now is generally understood, and easily explained as a result of the poor job market. The exception would be for some skills that are still very much in demand like certain technology professionals and healthcare professionals. However, outside of those, it is not generally considered a significant red flag to be taking a long time to land in a new position right now. It would still be a good idea, however, to indicate on your resume that you are using the time to better yourself with further education, volunteering, or short project work.

  • If a previous gap is for a few months, broaden the way you indicate your dates. If you worked at one company for 3 years and finished in February, but you didn’t land your new role until July, you can use years for your dates of employment instead of indicating specific months. 
    Show, for example:
    ABC Company 
    2002 – 2005
    XYZ Corporation
    2005 – 2009

    Do NOT indicate the employment dates as:
    ABC Company
    February 2002 – February 2005
    XYZ Corporation
    July 2005 – June 2009

    Be sure to use the same format consistently throughout your resume.

  • If you’ve had a more extended gap, indicate an explanation. If you had a gap that was for more than a few months, particularly if it was for a few years, and if there is no explanation on your resume, it is often assumed you must have been in prison. If that wasn’t the case for you, it’s important to give a clear and simple explanation in order to put that assumption to rest. You may indicate an entry on your resume as:

    Sabbatical to care for an elderly parent
    2002 –2004
    Active in non-profit volunteer efforts pending career transition
    2002 – 2004
    Pursue MBA
    2002 – 2004

Gaps in employment can be common and are not always fatal to your job search. However, when decisions on an applicant are made from a quick scan of their resume, it’s important not to leave obvious unanswered questions. Never embellish or indicate false dates! However, prepare your resume to minimize negatives and deal with the realities in the best way possible.


Ed Han said...

Excellent advice & definitely agree gaps are less problematic in the current environment than previously.

Unknown said...

Thanks Ed for Tweeting this article!
My gaps are more like valleys due to having to take care of sick family members living over 700 miles away!
Appreciate ANY help with how to address this issue!

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