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How to Justify Your Resume Gaps During Job Interviews

How to Justify Your Resume Gaps During Job Interviews

There are many valid reasons why your work history may leave a few…resume gaps.

Some people need to take time off work for travel or to further their education. Others have had to stop working due to personal, or familial, illness. There is also the harsh reality of companies having to lay employees off, which would necessitate them reentering the job market.

When it is time for a job interview, you should expect to justify your resume gaps. So, let’s look at some ways you can justify them.

Before we do that, let’s take a look at some do’s and don’ts when figuring out the explanations for these resume gaps.



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1Mention the gap
Don’t try to hide a gap in your resume, especially when there is a justifiable reason. This can make you appear dishonest.


2Show what you have learned/done during the gap
Potential employers may ask you what you had done during your gap to remain productive. Things like volunteer work, pursuing higher education and freelance projects can be very impressive.


3Bring evidence
While you don’t have to, bringing evidence to support your reason for a resume gap can be quite helpful, especially if the potential employer seems doubtful.



Photo by Ethan Haddox under unsplash license


1Letting the gap make you nervous
Resume gaps are common, and interviewers will give you a chance to explain yourself. So, don’t psych yourself out and appear nervous at your interview.


Lying during a job interview can cost you a job. Even if the reason for your resume gap was personal, such as illness or being laid off, it is more important that you remain upfront, honest and truthful.


Going on and on and oversharing about your reason for the resume gap can turn your potential employer off and can even make it seem like you are being dishonest.

Remember these tips as we move ahead and look at some sample justifications for your resume gaps based on the length of unemployment.



For resume gaps that are less than a year, here are 8 justifications that are sure to be well-received:

01“I was taking care of my sick parent”
This reason justifies a gap in your resume because as your parents get older, they will become sick and will need someone to take care of them. Most people prefer to do this themselves, rather than having a stranger see to their family’s needs.


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02“I was recovering from knee surgery”
After having surgery, your body will need time to heal. Surely you cannot be working at this time, especially if the job involves strenuous activity.


03“I had moved to a new state and had trouble finding a job”
Moving to a new state can be a bit difficult especially if you had not secured a job before the move. Your interviewer will understand this.


04“I was fired”
Being fired can have an impact on future employment if the new, potential employer, does not want to consider someone who has been let go.


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05“I was laid off”
Large companies find themselves downsizing their staff due to money issues, mergers or buyouts, relocation, and so on. Employees have no say in this so this is a very justifiable reason.


06“My wife just had a baby”
Some fathers prefer to be at home with their wife after she gives birth. This is understandable for those who can afford to.


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07“My health was declining”
If you worked somewhere that put a strain on your health, taking some time off from that job and work in general is a valid reason until you have recovered.



08“I was doing odd jobs”
When one does odd jobs, it isn’t for a long enough time period to be included on a resume.


Explanations for Resume Gaps of 2-4 Years


09“I was getting additional certifications”
People take time off from the workforce to get certificates and degrees to increase their employment potential and for salary increases.


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10“I had a baby”
After giving birth, mothers tend to take some time off to heal and tend to their children until they are old enough for daycares.


11“I took some time off to do some freelance work”
If you worked for a company that offers services to customers in areas such as finance, home repair, legal advice and so on, this is a justifiable reason.


Photo by Manny Pantoja under unsplash license


12“My [mother/father] had passed away and I had to close their estate”
The passing of a family member is a justifiable reason to take a leave of absence. If they had a business, property, or debt you may have to take some time to get everything in order.



13“I was injured in a car accident”
Depending on the injuries you sustained, this is more than enough reason to be out of work.


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14“I was doing volunteer work”
This can be a great justification for your resume gaps especially if the volunteer work pertains to the industry you are applying to.


15“I couldn’t find the right fit”
Some people choose passion over everything else when choosing a job. Explaining that you hadn’t found a job you would like is justifiable but may also make you seem like a flight risk.


16“I took some time off to see the world”
Many people take time off to do some traveling.


Photo by Dino Reichmuth under unsplash license


Explanations for Resume Gaps of More Than 5 Years


17“I joined the army”
Some people take time off work to serve in the military. This is understandable.


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18“I wanted to switch fields”
As people become older, they may choose to pursue a different career. To do this, they will sometimes need additional qualifications, training, and experience.



19“I was incarcerated”
While some people may avoid hiring ex-cons, others may give them a chance. This is a situation where being upfront and honest is especially important.
If you have been arrested in the past, be honest about your reason for incarceration and what you have learned during your sentence.


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20“I started my own business”
Start-up businesses require a lot of hands-on work. This will explain why you were not a part of the workforce during this time, but you should list it on your resume, even if it failed.


PHoto by Cam Morin under unsplash license


21“My family and I relocated to China for my husband’s job”
Sometimes when your spouse gets a job offering overseas, your entire family moves.
You may have had trouble finding a job there or simply didn’t have to work because one income was enough for you to live comfortably.


22“I volunteered at an NGO/NPO”
Volunteer work for NGO’s and NPO’S can take up a good amount of time especially if you are single and working overseas.


PHoto Alex Radelich under unsplash license


23“I have been a stay-at-home mom”
Even stay-at-home moms have to rejoin the workforce for a variety of reasons.
Explaining this to your interviewer will justify your resume gap, and make sure you take the time to explain why you are excited to reenter the workforce.


24“The market collapsed”
It is unfortunate that some jobs become obsolete but that is the harsh reality. Due to technological advances, some people find that their skills are no longer required.


Whatever your personal situation is, you need to be able to properly explain your resume gaps. Your candor, and confidence, speak more about you as a potential employee than an justifiable resume gap.

Just make sure you are honest, truthful, and clear, and follow all the tips given in this article.