Explaining Employment Gaps on a Resume

Perfect employment histories are very rare. In most cases, there are gaps – a few weeks, months or years. When not properly presented in a resume, these “holes” can be red flags for employers causing the immediate elimination of the applicant from the pre-screening process. That’s why explaining employment gaps on a resume is a step that should not be avoided.

One may wonder why, but based on research, most recruiters or employers prefer to know the applicant’s full work history. Visible and unexplained gaps in one’s work history sometimes give a poor impression of the applicant as this can imply various things; for example, the applicant is not capable of landing a job; he/she doesn’t care about his/her career; he/she is hiding something or has other problems such as laziness, substance abuse, or even legal trouble.

There are several techniques that can be used in addressing this “lull” issue. For shorter periods like 3 or 8 months, one can reduce the visibility of the gap by only stating the years (no months) of employment. Observe the following:

Example 1: from to
Job 2
Job 1 December 2013 – present
January 2011 – March 2013 2013 – present
2011 – 2013

Example 2:
Job 3
Job 2
Job 1 August 2013 – present

March 2012 – October 2012
September 2010 – April 2011 2013 – present
2010 – 2011

In example 1, there is a 9 month intermission between the 2 jobs; in example 2, there is an 11 month break between jobs 1 & 2, and a 10 month difference between jobs 2 & 3, but neither one is visible in the presentation. This way, the gap is masked and it is also easier for the employer to quickly estimate the duration of one’s stay in each job. Explanations for any perceived interruptions can be provided during the interview.

In the case of longer intervals, specifically those that span 2 years or more, a brief explanation, in parentheses, following the dates for each position should be provided. Examples would be “restructuring or downsizing,” “travel,” “consulting,” “volunteering,” “laid off due to economic circumstances,” etc. Hiatuses can also be explained briefly in the cover letter, but try not to direct focus on it. By doing this, the employer or resume screener will be provided with a valid explanation, and this will prevent them from assuming the worse.

At the end of the day, it is up to the applicants to decide what they should include or exclude in their resumes. Just bear in mind that employers or resume screeners will often read between the lines and notice small quirks and inconsistencies. If there are grey areas, they will not waste their time calling those applicants; instead, they will just toss any questionable resumes in the trash. Like it or not, this is the reality and one must better prepare for it!


M. Galvez-Ver | DBPC BLOG

Is Your Resume The Right Format For You?

Have you ever been in a situation where you apply to multiple jobs but never get a call back, even though you have the perfect qualifications for that particular job? It happens to many individuals and the main reason why people are not getting interviews is their resumes. This document provides the employer all the information s/he needs to know about each candidate, based on that s/he will decide which applicants are the best for the company and the particular role. Getting a call back for your dream job wouldn’t be that hard, if you knew the correct aspects to arrange your resume. There are three different types of resume formats, chronological, functional and combination. You should select the one that works for your particular experience and the type of job you are looking for.

Is your resume the right format for you? This article will help you to understand each format and what you need to consider to select the right for you.

  1. Chronological Resume
    A chronological resume enlists your work history, going from the most recent job to the oldest one. This format is perfect for people with stable work history that means working for a company for at least three years and not changing jobs repeatedly. You can also use this format if you want to stay on the same career field, this will allow you to showcase your experience in the area.

    Here is how to structure your resume following this format:
    –  As mentioned before, first enlist your work history in chronological order. Initiate with your most recent job, follow by the ones prior to that one, and just mention your experience from the last ten years. List job titles, name of companies and length on each position including month and year.
         –  Below each job, use action verbs to give a short description of your main responsibilities. It’s also extremely important to mention your most relevant accomplishments and provide the results and impact of the same ones by numbers.
         –  After you finish with your work experience, enlist your educational background. Include name of the establishment, degree(s) earned and year of graduation. The extent of this section will depend on your situation, if you are a recent graduate this will be your main focus and you will need to enlist your accomplishments, honors and awards. But if you are an experienced professional, just the basic information will be fine.

  2. Functional Resume
    The main focus of this format is the skills you have acquired during your work experience that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Decide which areas of expertise you wish to highlight and list the responsibilities and achievements you had on each of them. Utilize this type of arrangement, if you have gaps on your work history or wish to have a career change.

    The structure for this format will be as follows:
         –  The initial part of your resume will depend on your experience. If you are a recent graduate or an individual with entry level experience, you should establish a clear career objective, this will show the employer what you want to achieve professionally. But if you are an experienced professional, mentioning the position you are submitting your resume for will be enough.
         –  After the objective or Position, you will start with the Highlights of Qualifications. Under this you will indicate the most important skills you possess that are related to the position you are applying for, it’s imperative to focus on the company requirements and qualifications.
         –  The next part will be Areas of Expertise, on this section remark all the achievements and contributions you had with past employers. Divide them by specific areas like accounting, office administration, customer service and so on. As mention before, just try to include what will be relevant to the specific role or company you wish to submit your resume.
    –  On the third section you will enlist your professional experience and volunteer work. As the chronological format you will start with the most recent job and go back just ten years. Don’t go over specifics of each work, limit the information to company name, role or roles at the company, city and province/state where the organization is located and the period you were working on each position indicating month and year.
    –  At last you will go over your Education, Training and Certificates. Indicate the name of the course, establishment where you took the course, location of the same and the year you graduated or completed the course.

  3. Combination Resume
    As the name says, this type of resume blends the two previous formats. Include the highlights of qualifications of the functional and the professional experience of the chronological. This arrangement will allow you to feature the skills you have that are relevant to the position and at the same time will give the employers the detail work history that they usually prefer.

When selecting a resume format, based your decision on the type of job you want to get and your experience. Take your time writing your resume and if it’s possible target it to each particular job you are applying for, it will take time and effort but it will increase your chances to get an interview. Regardless the format you select, your resume should always have your contact information, educational background, work experience, achievement and qualifications. It should also be visually appealing, with not grammatical or spelling mistakes. Always be sure just to mention what is relevant to your career and professional goals and when applying for jobs make sure to submit your resume just to the positions you are actually qualified for. Getting interviews depends more on your dedication and commitment to your job hunting process, than the unemployment situation as a lot of people think. There will always be companies hiring and is just in you to give a good first impression and show why you are the best for the role, selecting the right format will allow you to do that and take you closer to that goal.


V. Sanchez | DBPC Blog