Ask Carla: What should I do about gaps in my resume?

Q: I have a few gaps in my resume. How should I cover them? Or should I just leave them there?


A : You didn’t mention why you have those gaps so let me just cover the full spectrum. 


If you took time off from your career to return to school, this is certainly justifiable. In fact, this is a good thing, especially if you received a degree in a certain discipline. Your degree will be proof that you were in school. Be sure that you display the dates that you were in school on your resume.


If you took time off from your career to become a full-time parent, you can explain this to the hiring manager. Companies nowadays are more understanding and tolerant of parents (male or female) who need to take time off from work to spend with their children. Keep in mind that FMLA allows 12 weeks for family and medical leave.


If you took time off from work to change your career, not to worry. Perhaps you stayed with your parents, spouse, relatives, etc. while you went back to school or studied online to complete your schooling in another field. So now you have your degree or certificate for the job in which you are applying for. Good for you! Explain this to the hiring manager.


And certainly there is no shame in taking time off from your career to care for a sick loved one. You will just need to explain this to the hiring manager without getting too personal.


If you worked temporary off and on…or if you volunteered for any length of time, you will need to verify the dates with the hiring manager. Perhaps your lifestyle prevented you from working on a consistent basis and temping worked best for you; just explain this to the hiring manager. Or, maybe you volunteered for a period of time after you graduated from college because you wanted to gain experience…that’s fine, you would need to explain this as well.


Well, maybe you have not experienced any of the above reasons for gap(s) in your employment history, but you did take some time off from your career due to personal issues. You don’t have to go into detail about what your issues were, but you can briefly acknowledge that you did take time off (give dates) but have moved forward since then.


And finally, perhaps you have been actively looking for work but have not been successful in landing a job yet. Keep in mind that nowadays it’s not uncommon for job seekers to be unemployed for an extended period of time due to the enormous competition in the job market. You will need to explain to potential employers of your diligence and consistency in looking for work.

*If possible, bring any documentation supporting your reasons for employment gaps with you to your interview(s).

*If you have a criminal record or other misdemeanor crime, it’s imperative that you let the hiring manager know beforehand. Be honest…keep in mind this information will surface when they do a background check on you.

Good Luck on your job search!