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How to Bridge Career Gaps in Your Resume

A gap year was an established, acceptable norm in earlier days, and people took a year or more off after finishing studies to explore the world and gain worldly experience. But with time, this norm has turned into an exception, and not many are ready to pack their bags and find the world for themselves.

A gap year can take many forms: A year travelling through some part of the world, volunteering with some international organization, becoming a part of a commune or even teaching English in China.

While the gap primarily occurs in the year preceding or following college, you may also choose to take a gap year between jobs. That can be either because you are laid off and have enough money saved up to afford it, or you quit a high-stress job that did not seem the right career choice going forward.

Once this gap year is finished and you want to enter the workforce again, how do you list this time on your resume?

Here is some key advice on how to mention your gap year on your resume.

Have a Functional Resume that Highlights Skills

One option is to leave your gap year off your resume altogether. 

Another way is not to follow the chronological order resume where you list your experiences in order.

Such a resume is helpful if the gap year occurred due to family circumstances or a working exit due to disagreement or performance.

Here you can include any skill you picked up during this time without giving any specifics of how.

List Your Gap Year under Experience

If you worked, taught, or volunteered, this is a valuable work experience. You can list this under the “experience” section of your resume. Your gap year may also show that you’re a leader, adventurous, or have some other qualities desired at many companies.

Tailor your points to emphasize the skills mentioned in the job description as well as the required tasks. Quantify your accomplishments and tasks as much as possible.

Here are some examples of how to list your work experience in your resume.

Volunteered at Senegal Rehabilitation Non-Profit Organization, Sept 2018 to January 2019

  • Worked with an education non-profit organization that works to improve conditions of girls
  • It helps transform young high school girls into solution-oriented and competent change agents in their communities
  • We help them spread awareness of the need to study, pick up skillsets and spread hygiene awareness
  • Helped design a brochure of their activities for donors and partners 
  • Helped to spread the word about the organization and their work to garner volunteers, funding and more donors.
  • Was an ESL teacher in Vietnam from January 2018 to Feb 2019
  • Taught conversational English to adult learners in Hanoi.
  • Taught basic and intermediate English
  • Taught two-hour per week
  • Implemented innovative communication teaching and methods 

Include Your Gap Year as a Separate Section of Your Resume

If your gap year experience is totally different than your career, then it is better to set it up as a different section.

Put this under “Volunteer Experience,” “International Travel,” or “Additional Activities & Experience.”

Highlight the role of the gap year in your growth

Any work experience, especially away from your comfort zone, is bound to add to your personality development. Exposure to a different culture, country and way of life adds to life experiences, and it makes you more empathetic, tolerant and widens your horizon. 

You can highlight how this has helped you relate better with colleagues and your work.

Mention that you have picked up a smattering of another language, have learnt to coordinate and manage a difficult supply chain stream, budgeting and planning.

Narrative

You can add a short narrative of your experiences in the gap year and weave in all the lessons garnered of being more efficient with resources, budgeting, planning ahead for unforeseen hiccups, thinking out of the box, etc.

Anna Verasai
Anna Versai is a Team Writer at The HR Digest; she covers topics related to Recruitment, Workplace Culture, Interview Tips, Employee Benefits, HR News and HR Leadership. She also writes for Technowize, providing her views on the Upcoming Technology, Product Reviews, and the latest apps and softwares.

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