12 Helpful Tips On How To Effectively Present Your Career Break In Your Resume

For different reasons, people may take time off from their careers to travel, find a new career path, for recuperation, or to take care of the family. Whatever is the reason for the break, this will eventually reflect in the resume’s employment history. Any gap may raise questions from future recruiters, hence one should be able to briefly and effectively explain to prevent it from affecting your application. To help you present your career gap in your resume, here are the 12  tips you can use.  

1. Identify whether your employment gap still needs to be mentioned.

A career break should be mentioned if you have taken a long time off within your recent career history. Meanwhile, short career gaps like three months or less won’t be really a question for employers hence it is something not to be concerned about. Employers are more interested in your recent career history, so an old gap which could be ten years ago or so may not need to be explained.

2. Determine where to properly mention your career gap 

The most appropriate place to mention your career gap will depend on how recent your career break was and your motives for taking it. If you are currently on a break, you may address it in your personal statement and work history section. Meanwhile, if you are employed now but have a career gap one to ten years ago, then you can mention it in the experience section.

3. Give a good reason

It is best to let employers know the reason for the employment gap. Leaving an unexplained gap in a resume can be perceived as a warning sign to employers. Most of the time gaps are not considered as the issue itself but what concerns them is the motivation or reason behind it. Some may see time offs are due to laziness, attitude problem, or having a conflict in the community. Also, if you have multiple gaps in your resume, this can be perceived that you have a habit of quitting your jobs. To get rid of those doubts and misleading assumptions, it is best to give a brief reason for it. Show that your personal decision is deliberate due to a valid comprehensible reason. Justify it by explaining that the break was because of necessity and that it has helped you to expand your knowledge in some way. If you have a good reason for the gap and demonstrated that there isn’t an alarming reason behind it, then it will be considered as a non-issue. 

4. Emphasize the skills you learned during the career break

Just because a career gap is your most recent experience doesn’t mean it belongs at the top of your resume. During your time off you may have probably learned, or honed some skills that make you even more employable. You may have taken courses where your competencies on a particular skill have developed. Illustrating that your break equipped you with new skills will be viewed positively. To present the skills you learned, you can add a “Skills” section then list the specific skills that fit the requirements of the position you are applying for. Hiring managers often look for a skills match to make sure you are an excellent fit for the job. Some use a software such as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to scan your resume during the hiring process. This scans the resume to look for some specific keywords that match the job description. If you have written some matched keyword skills it may increase your chance to be invited for an interview. 

5. Include the experiences you gained during the gap

Show how your gap year has kept you busy by emphasizing the constructive activities you did. If you use the break to do any voluntary work then include it in the volunteer work section of your resume. If you took a class, list it in the education section. If you took aptitude tests, and skills assessments then create another section for it. Every experience you had has provided you with a valuable learning curve. Choose relevant experiences you had to the role you want next. Presenting this will enable you to make your career break look purposeful. Employers will view the break in a good way and see that despite being out of work, you developed useful skill, and had a good exposure. 

6. Use the right resume format.

Use a “skills-based” or functional resume layout instead of the reverse-chronological format. Although this layout includes a list of your employment history, it minimizes focusing on gaps. It doesn’t put too much emphasis on your job titles, and periods of employment. This kind of format allows you to craft your resume in a way that demonstrates how qualified you are to do the job you are applying for. Using it will enable you to properly position yourself, by emphasizing your abilities, the projects you’ve worked for, and your relevant skills that best match the ones needed for the job you’re seeking.

7. Format the dates on your resume

One quick way to minimize the gaps in your resume is by formatting the dates and not using the more detailed month-and-year option. Removing the months and only including the year to show your periods of employment is acceptable especially if you were in a position for over a year. By doing this, your resume doesn’t specifically indicate when you started and ended in particular employment. Hence, if there is a gap for months, it may not be completely obvious to potential employers. However, longer periods of career break cannot be minimized in this manner.

For example:

Instead of  ABC Magazine, January 2013 – November 2016,  revise it into ABC Magazine, 2013 – 2016

8. Be Honest 

Whatever your reason for your employment break be honest when you explain it. Since recruitment officers are used to browsing resumes and reading cover letters, they can easily detect dishonesty. Simply acknowledge and explain convincingly and briefly in your resume your employment gap. There’s no need for you to be too detailed, however, leaving it out completely or lying about the reason will only make it intriguing. Also, don’t fabricate experiences and change dates to stretch out periods of employment to cover up any gaps. This strategy is not only unethical but also can put you in an awkward situation as it’s not impossible for employers not to find this out. By doing a background check, searching you on the internet, or calling your previous employers they’ll know about your history.

9. Be selective on what to include on your resume 

Your resume doesn’t need to include your entire employment history. If you’ve been in employment for years and held several different positions it’s acceptable to omit the irrelevant ones and the far-back jobs you’ve had. Instead of including everything, focus on the most relevant ones. Limit the years of experience you include on your resume and only cover a summary of the last 10 to 15 years of work. This will make your resume to the point, as well as will keep the gaps to a minimum.

10. Explain it concisely

Lengthy details are not needed when addressing a career break in your resume. Avoid stressing the gap by summarizing the explanation into short sentences and a few lines. Writing too many details in your resume might do more harm than good in your application. This kind of detail is much better and easier to discuss in person. If you intend to explain your career break further, go into details during the interview. 

11. Present your employment gap in your experience section

The most appropriate place to show an employment gap on a resume is in your work history. To minimize its emphasis, you can conclude your resume with it. Don’t just write a career gap as a sub-heading but indicate its start and end as well. Include other relevant experiences such as freelance and consulting work in your timeline. Meanwhile, if you had non-career-related activities, include them as well and describe it in the way you would do in any job. 


Career Gap 


Took time off to start a new career path.

Worked as a freelance content writer on ABC magazine

Enrolled in a content marketing online class and took a certification exam. 

12. Express your readiness to commit in your professional summary

Employers need to be assured that you are ready to commit to the company and the gap will not recur. State your readiness to work with them long term on your summary located at the top of your resume.


  • Currently seeking a writing position in an online magazine after refining and developing my skills through taking a content writing course and obtaining Content Marketing certification.

Most employers are more accustomed to work gaps these days. However, despite that is better understood now, it is still best to present it in the best way possible to make sure that you leave a good impression. Follow the above guidelines to write an effective career gap description. 


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Kaycie Gayle is a freelance content writer and a digital publisher. Her writings are mostly about, travel, culture, people, food, and communication.