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How to explain an employment gap on a resume

People take extended leaves from work for all kinds of reasons, and it's much more accepted now than it may have been in the past. Unfortunately, it’s still something many hiring managers don’t like to see on a resume, so it’s important to know how to explain any employment gaps on yours. Build confidence with these tips.

Highlight your skills and strengths first

Front-load your resume with your skills, and then list your professional experience. A summary of your skills and strengths can establish your qualifications first—before a hiring manager even notices an employment gap. Plus, many hiring managers are looking to hire people with specific skillsets above direct experience, so this approach could be helpful for certain opportunities.

Get your story straight

Prepare in advance for how you’ll answer the inevitable questions. Think about how you’ll account for an extended leave, and practice telling the story. A short, clear, and well-rehearsed explanation can address a hiring manager’s concern while also making you more relatable and nuanced as a candidate. Focus on the skills you continued to use while out of the workforce and how you'll apply them in your new job. Remember that volunteering and other activities can provide relevant context and experience as well. 

Take advantage of opportunities to learn during those gaps

While you’re between jobs, there are proactive steps you can take to keep your career on track and continue to gain valuable skills in the process. Online courses, volunteer opportunities, and internships can all offer valuable training and education. This kind of self-directed learning can also help position you positively as a self-starting, curious, and ambitious professional. As always, it’s important to be honest, avoid embellishing, and be ready to explain how you gained skills from these opportunities.

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This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.