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Explaining Employment Gaps in Your Résumé (VIDEO)

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter discusses how to explain how to discuss the gap in your employment history.


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Today, let's talk about how to deal with that gap in your resume . . . You know, that time in your background were took you 5 months, 8 months, 7 months . . . whatever it is to find a new position 3 years ago. How do you deal with that interruption your experience?

Some people have this silly idea that they are supposed to lie and cover it up. I must in all honesty tell you it doesn't work anymore. Employers are cooperating with one another and do background checks post-employment (after you join their firm). They will send a note to your previous employer and say, "So, Jane told us in their application that you work for your firm for such and such period of time. Does that seem somewhat accurate?" If they find inconsistency in your job application, it is grounds for termination. They can't keep you on board because, frankly, lying can get them into trouble.

Imagine for a 2nd that you are employed by them and commit some sort of crime. For example, you work on Wall Street and trade grandma's life savings down to zero. Can you imagine what happens when a lawyer gets a hold of the firm and asks, "you knew he lied on his employment application and you still kept them on board!" How do you think that would play out in the courts?

Employers have a very simple policy. They will terminate you. They will terminate you without any warning whatsoever. What they will do is meet you at your desk with security and hand you a box with your personal things and send you on your way. You don't want that to happen. Here's how you deal with it.

When you have a gap in your background, you use the cover email that you send your resume in (these are like the old cover letteyrs people use to mail the resume with. Today, that is the message area of your email) to sell yourself.

You might write in the cover email, "I'm forwarding my resume to you because I was recommended by so-and-so, you told me that your position for such and such." Or, you might say, "I saw your ad on such and such site that told me that you trying to hire such and such type of person. "

The 2nd paragraph my talk about your qualifications and how your background fits the role. The 3rd 1 might say something like, "you may notice my job history that for years ago I was unemployed for 6 months. During that time, the on the economy was terrible and they found it difficult to find work. Ultimately, I was able to land a job with another organization. "

Or, you might just simply say, "I had an injury at that time. I was in a car accident and had surgery. It was impossible for me to work." Or you might talk about how you assisted your dying mom during the last 6 months of her life. These are pretty common stories that employer hears.

Another one that they here is, "I took a package to leave my organization. I decided that I had not had a lengthy vacation since I was in college and decide to take 4 months to travel in China before coming back and resuming my career." What ever it is, do that in the 3rd paragraph and then come back and sell yourself in the remainder of the cover email.

This is the easiest way to deal with the gap in your background. Then, you have to remember what you told them in your email. So when you meet with them in person and raise the subject, they are looking for consistency. Thus, if you talk about that vacation that you took, you say, "I know a lot of people would find it difficult to believe, it was 1 of the great 4 months of my life. I love my work, but it was an opportunity to travel. I had money in the bank and decide to take advantage of this time." You just speak to them in a way that sounds absolutely sincere.

This is the easiest way to deal with the gap in the background.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching. He is the host of “Job Search Radio” and “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” both available through iTunes and Stitcher.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching from me?  Email me at [email protected] and put the word, “Coaching” in the subject line.

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13 thoughts on “Explaining Employment Gaps in Your Résumé (VIDEO)

  1. Yep! That’s exactly what I mean. Refresh your memory so what you say in the interview is consistent with what you told them in the email. You won’t believe it but people sometimes forget to do that and tell a different story. If you’re the interviewer, you can imagine the notes you take about that! And, of course the person is rejected.

  2. Hi friend was diagnoised with suppression and social anxiety now he is OK now, tbw employment gap after education is almost 8 years what should he put in his resume? ? Please reply as soon as possible thank you

  3. This is Bonnie for Jeff. He only answers advice questions through Contact him via that service.

  4. Hi Jeff. Question.- How do you explain a change of Carrier in your resume. I worked as an engineer until 2003, later when to work in the financial sector. These days I want to go back to the engineering field (After 15 years) . What will you recommend me to say on an interview..? Thank you.

  5. Question?
    What’s your advice if you had a gap in employment due to medical issues for 2yrs.
    I feel as though if I revel this information that they will view me as sickly (judge) me and not want to hire me because they may think I’m unstable.

    What would you do?

  6. This is Bonnie for Jeff. He answers questions through PrestoExperts however, he is away for a few days. Knowing him, he would tell you to confidently say that you had a lengthy medical illness and have fully recovered and say it with power and confidence.

  7. This time, it’s Jeff. I’m taking a few days away with my family so I’m going to be brief. Bonnie’s advice speaking for me is right. Interviewing involves acting by inspiring confidence and speaking with certainty. Do what she says with confidence. If they pry into what the illness was, simply say, “Excuse me if I politely don’t answer. I’m fine and ready to roll again. Let me demonstrate what I can do for you and tell you about what I’ve done before , just like anyone else.” Speak with a smile on your face that says I believe in myself. Got it? Great! Now join JobSearchCoachingHQ and get answers to LOTS of other questions and learn what you need for finding a job.

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