Okay, so you weren’t employed for a while. 

You have a perfectly good explanation. No big deal. Right?

Well, yes and no. 

If you’re applying for a job, hiring managers will be curious about any work experience gaps in your résumé.

It’s crucial to be honest about these gaps. Any hint of deceit will ruin your chances of getting a job.

Still, you needn’t showcase these gaps. You can minimize them while explaining them discreetly. 

Or, be bold and tell what you did while you were on your own. 

The correct choice is whatever makes the most sense in your case.

Let’s go over several ways to explain employment gaps. 

Choose the ones that fit your goals and experience.

Be Honest

Employers verify employment history. 

Hiring managers don’t like finding false information in your application.

If you lie, expect to be exposed. Your résumé may pass an ATS screening, but the truth will come out in a human résumé verification phase or a face-to-face job interview. 

Be Concise

Just because there’s a gap in your employment doesn’t mean you must belabor the point. A brief, concise statement is most persuasive in this case. Don’t go into excessive detail. State the reason for the gap and be done with it.

Emphasize That the Gap Was Voluntary

Make your time out of the workforce look like a conscious, positive choice. Even if you were fired or laid off, you can focus on the positive outcomes of the temporary work gap. Highlight what you learned from the experience. 

At worst, use neutral language. Never talk negatively about a former employer. That makes the hiring manager think you might do the same about them someday. It’s also quite unprofessional. That reflects poorly upon you.

Focus on the Future

Keep this in mind: employers care more about their organization's future than about your past. Just about everyone has some gap in their work experience. This could be for personal reasons, school, sabbatical, travel, training… the list goes on. 

Not every gap is viewed as unfavorable, and you can make a positive impression when describing the benefits of the time away from work.

Consider a Different Résumé Format

Résumés come in different formats. The traditional reverse chronological timeline format tends to emphasize employment gaps. Avoid this format if your gaps are long or frequent.

Using a functional résumé format highlights your skills and accomplishments. Gaps are minimized or even covered over. 

List Your Temp or Freelance Jobs as Self-Employment

If you have a series of contract work hires in your past, you can list them together as self-employed work for your own company. This approach is acceptable and beneficial, as it allows you to present your freelance or contract work in a unified, professional manner.

Choose a business title that consolidates the skills you used in your jobs. Skip listing the months of each job. Use a single beginning and ending date covering the entire work period.

For example, use business titles such as “Self-employed project manager” or “freelance consultant.” 

Be creative but logical when choosing a business title that describes your experience during this time.

Explain in a Cover Letter

A cover letter is a great place to explain significant gaps in employment. You can go into as much or as little detail as you wish in a cover letter. You can add relevant context and phrase your experience in the best possible light. 

Explain How the Gaps Benefitted You

Remember to mention the positive takeaways from your employment gaps, like lessons learned, improved skills, and personal interactions. Demonstrate how you spent time preparing to return to work.

Show You’re Ready to Return to Work

The overall tone and purpose of a résumé, cover letter, or interview that contains employment gaps is to show the hiring manager that you have spent time preparing—and are highly qualified—for the job you seek. While you have honestly indicated your gaps, you also maintained personal and professional growth throughout these temporary episodes.

Impress the Hiring Manager

The way you present your gaps can be one of your greatest strengths. 

Your résumé indicates your skills, knowledge, and experience. But showing your professionalism, creativity, honesty, and drive to succeed is impressive to hiring managers. 

Maintain your professionalism and honesty throughout. That’s the kind of person that gets hired. If several applicants have the required technical skills for the job, these soft skills set you apart from the competition. Companies want people who can relate to others. 

Skilled professionalism can be the theme of your résumé, cover letter, and face-to-face interviews. These characteristics will show through even in your day-after thank you follow-up letter. 

Looking Forward

You can automate your tedious job search process.

This means tailoring each résumé, cover letter, and thank you note to the specific job description of the position you seek.

aiapplly.com supports your entire employment journey.

  • Job search board
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  • Cover letter building and tailoring
  • Tailored, post-interview thank you letter
  • Interview practice with AI-generated questions
  • Job application question resource
  • AI headshots

All you do is upload your current résumé or CV and the job description of the position you’re applying for.

Let AI do the time-consuming work of tailoring and typing everything.

The more jobs you apply for, the more work and time you save. 

You can try aiapply.com out for free. 

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Use AI to elevate your job search with aiapply.com.