How To Explain That Gap in Your Resume

To make sure your sabbatical isn’t holding you back from getting your dream job.

Here are a few tips on how to explain that gap in your resume.

If you have taken a break in your career and are now looking to get back into the workforce, the question is how do you explain that absence in your resume or to potential recruiters.

It is an age-old conundrum. Do you ignore that gap in your resume and tackle the expected questions during the hiring process, or give an explanation on the resume itself?

The same question was put to some hiring managers and their opinion was to tackle the question head-on. Meaning, give an explanation on the resume itself. The hiring process being what it is nowadays, it is very easy for recruiters to discard CVs with lacuna. The weeding process is very tough, a resume goes through many steps before making the final cut. An employment gap makes the recruiter wary of you and you may not get called for the interview even.


Be honest about any gap in your employment history, however short it is. Transparency in such a situation works best. An explanation saves the recruiter from making assumptions and the chances of you making it to the interview increase.

The primary purpose of a curriculum vitae is to show relevant skills and experience suitable for the job you have applied for.

A sabbatical should also be a part of that process and one need not treat it any differently.

The reasons for a sabbatical can be varied. Many people take time off from work to explore the world, to study, go for professional up-skill courses, or try out a different career path.

There can be some personal reasons too, such as medical leave, maternity or paternity leave above the sanctioned time. Or you may have been even laid off because of the closure of a company, or the economic headwinds.

It is how you present these date lapses in your resume is what matters, according to recruiting professionals.

Demonstrating how this date lapse helped you grow personally or professionally and putting a positive spin to the whole experience will go a long way in meeting the questions of prospective employers.

On the resume, you can address the issue by keeping the dates simple. List only years of employment.

Very few recruiters insist on the exact months of starting and finishing in a job.

If you have a small gap between projects, such as you end one in April and start another in November, the assumption can be that you continued to be employed in the interim period.


If the gap is longer than a few months then how do you deal with the issue? As we have pointed out earlier, be honest. Address the gap chronologically in your resume and give a short explanation there itself.

You can choose to give a note at the end of your resume too.


May 2001- February 2002—Looking for suitable employment as my company faced closure due to sales and revenue issues.

A sabbatical for medical reasons does not get a pass from recruiters who are again wary of people who fall sick or have family liabilities that require time off. So keep the explanation short and to the point. Write professional sabbatical with the dates given and answer further queries during the interview.


People who are without a job for more than a year rarely spend the time at home vegetating. Most actively network, work part-time, join some course. In short, spend time gainfully looking for work. This time can be listed as experience gained under that section. Giving a positive narrative is what matters.

Addressing the gap in a cover letter is recommended by some hiring managers. But if the gap is short (1-2 years) then it does not make sense. Professional up skills or courses taken can be mentioned, but otherwise, put the gap only in the resume is my advice.

Women who take time off to start a family can list it as such with no hesitation nowadays. Family rearing is being gainfully engaged and employers are quite open to hiring such talent.

A professional gap or sabbatical in your work life should not be a hindrance if handled in a positive way.

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Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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