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BellaOnline's Unemployment Editor

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Returning to Work – Explaining Gaps in Your Work History

Guest Author - Lisa McGrimmon

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a long period of time, at some point those gaps in your work history can start to raise questions in the minds of employers.

How long do you have before employment gaps become an issue? It really depends on your industry. The more high tech and fast paced your industry is, the sooner gaps in your employment history can become a concern for employers.

In general, employment gaps that are recent and greater than six months long can become a concern. Gaps that are in the past and less than six months long tend to be less of a concern for employers.

Why are employers concerned about gaps?

Gaps in employment history can raise a few questions in the minds of employers such as:
  • Is she really not all that dedicated to her work?
  • Does she have personal issues that will interfere with her ability to do the job?
  • Is she up to date on current technology and recent industry trends and developments?
  • What was she doing during that time period?

If you've been out of work for a while, there are a few techniques you can use to minimize the impact of a current gap in your work history.

On your resume, highlight your relevant skills first, then list your professional experience. List any dates on the right side of the page. People who are quickly reading a resume first see what is on the left side of the page, so the dates won't be the first thing they notice.

Avoid including months in the dates on your resume. Omitting months typically does not raise red flags in the minds of employers, and it can often minimizes work history gaps. Do not omit years from the dates in your work history. Omitting years from your work history is almost never helpful as it raises too many questions in the minds of employers.

Narrowing the gap If you've been out of work for a while, and you haven't been active in your industry, find a way to get active. If you have been doing volunteer work, freelancing or taking courses that are relevant to your industry, you can bring that experience to the top of your resume to minimize gaps.

In an interview, be ready with a confident answer to any questions about the reason for the gap. Be sure to mention anything you've done recently that is industry related, and be positive about your suitability for the job.

For example: "Yes, I did decide to focus on some other commitments. In that time I also completed two business management courses at ABC School of Business. Based on my five years of professional experience at XYZ Company, as well as my recent studies, I'm confident that my skills are a good match for your needs in this job."

Be confident and positive. Build a simple, straightforward response that explains your gap and then focus on demonstrating all of the reasons why you are a great fit for the job.

Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-At-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work

Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-At-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work


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Returning to Work - How to Protect Your Earning Potential
Back on The Career Track - Book Review
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Content copyright © 2014 by Lisa McGrimmon. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lisa McGrimmon. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Corlia Logsdon for details.

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