How to explain gaps in your employment record

During these uncertain times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have lost their employment through no fault of their own, which comes on top of usual changes in employment. This article explains how to best approach the problem of clarifying gap/s in your employment record to a potential employer.

It’s important to be strategic when talking about a gap in your resume to show employers you’re still a top-notch candidate for the gig. You don’t want to over-explain and wind up digging yourself into a hole, but if you fail to explain enough, your interviewer may be left wondering about the mysterious period in your employment history.

While the prospect of how to explain gaps in employment is enough to stress anyone out, it’s not as rare as you think. In fact, according to Monster’s 2019 State of the Candidate Report, three in five Americans have had a career gap and over one-third of those occurred due to layoffs.

With the landscape of what to include in your resume constantly changing, it’s important to keep up with best practices for structuring resume gaps to ensure you start on the right foot.

Need to explain the gap on your resume but don’t know where to start? Keep reading to learn how to navigate the most common types of resume gaps.

What is an employment gap?

Resume gaps can be a fine line to walk. While you want to provide your interviewer with enough information that they feel confident in your candidacy, you also don’t want to disclose more than necessary.

When should I explain a gap in my resume?

Generally, any employment gap of six to nine months or more should be explained. This is circumstantial based on the reason for your gap — for example, being fresh out of college and having a six-month employment gap before your first job is relatively common. Under six months is a normal amount of time and can be considered a job searching period.

What about job hopping?

Job hopping is usually defined as people who leave a job after less than one to two years in a position. While job hopping is not necessarily a bad thing, a history of job hopping can seriously detract from your resume.

Employers look at short stints and say to themselves, ‘I’m spending a lot of time recruiting, and you seem unlikely to stay here for more than 18 months. I should keep looking for someone who’s more stable.’”

While some job hopping can provide advancement opportunities in your career, too much of it can negatively impact your professional reputation. With job hopping comes additional resume gaps, so you’ll want to be careful if you do decide to job hop.

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