How To Explain Employment Gaps in Resume / Cover Letter / Interview

When looking for a job, you are never going to get a second chance to make a good first impression. That is why you must ensure that your resume and other documents needed for your interview is on point. Even after you have done this, you are still likely going to face one challenge. And that is of explaining the employment gap in your resume. While it is easy to assume that an employment gap is of little significance and won’t hurt the odds of you getting the job, you need to keep in mind that gaps on an employment resume are a big red flag.


What exactly is an employment gap?

An employment gap is simply the period of time when you didn’t have a job or did not work. This could be because you had to go to school (full time), to travel and explore or to have children.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a gap in your resume because of the above activities, but you need to clearly explain to your employer the reason for the gap during your interview. If you don’t, he or she may assume that you are an alcoholic, a criminal or worse.

So, if you are in this situation, you have to learn the right way to explain the gap in your resume. Lucky for you, this article is going to teach you how to do that effectively.

Before we dive right into that, we are first going to be looking at some reasons why managers hate employment gaps.


Why managers and employers hate employment gap

As you know, the reason why people start businesses is to make a profit. To achieve this goal, they hire people to carry out important tasks that are critical to the growth of their company and ultimately to make more profit.

That said, if an employer hires the wrong person, the company is going to lose thousands of precious dollars. To avoid this, employers carefully scrutinize job seekers. One of the most important things they look out for when hiring is the employment gap. If a manager notices an employment gap in a job seeker resume, he may assume that the person may skip work or perform poorly in the future.

To prevent your employer from assuming the worst about you, you have to explain the reason for the gap in your resume.

If for example, you have a resume gap because of an accident, you must explain to your employer that everything has been resolved. If you don’t, they may wonder if you are fit or fully capable of work.

You likely now know what an employment gap is and why managers hate it. Next, we are going to be looking at how to explain an employment gap.


The right way to explain employment gaps in your resume

Be Honest

Don’t make up false stories or claims to cover the gap in your resume. Rather, explain the real reason why you weren’t working. By doing this, you can be sure that your employer won’t assume the worse.

Resist the urge to cover the gap in your resume with dates, as it will make your employer feel that you have something shady to hide. Show the gap in your resume and briefly explain the reason for them.

Below is an example of how to explain an employment gap.

December 2018-January 2019

I was injured in a car accident. After a couple of surgery, I recovered and can perform at full capacity.


Be prepared

If there is a gap in your resume, don’t assume, hope or conclude that it won’t come up, because it will. And when it does, if you are not ready, you may start stammering. If you don’t want to be in that situation, then you should be ready to explain the reason for the gap. Below are some tips that will help you out in this regard.

  • Keep your explanations brief. (Prepare a finish line so you don’t go on talking and talking and eventually trail off into an awkward and embarrassing silence).
  • Sincerely reassure the person hiring why it won’t happen again.
  • Share the value and skills you picked up during the period you weren’t working.



This is an effective way to make the hiring managers like you and hopefully give less attention to the gap in your resume. Granted, getting referrals from reputable companies is a bit of a challenge, but if you are able to pull it off, you will have a better chance of getting the job.

You can get a referral from – Companies you have worked for in the past or companies you want to work for.


Find the value

Irrespective of the nature of what you did during the period you weren’t working, try to figure out the value you added to people’s lives.

For example, if you volunteered at a church or a charity organization or you managed other volunteers, then you can use it to your advantage by stating in your resume that you gained some managerial experience when you weren’t working.

You can look for relevant achievements in the following areas

  • Freelancing
  • Part-time work
  • Volunteer work


Cover letter

While a formal letter is great and an excellent avenue to explain the reasons for the gap in your resume, it shouldn’t be the number one weapon in your arsenal. It is best you use it as a back-up.


Tell them what you can do

Do all you can to improve the quality of your resume and use it to show the following;

  1. How you can increase their efficiency
  2. How you can help them make more money
  3. Also, how you can save them from spending more

As you know, crafting a resume that can show the above is difficult. But if you do your research and work endlessly at it, you will be able to pull it off.

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