How to Explain Employment Gaps, Sabbaticals and Negatives on Your Resume

Here’s how to avoid putting a negative spin on your work glitches and how to stop hiring managers from wondering what you really did with your time. Read the story here.


4 Responses to “How to Explain Employment Gaps, Sabbaticals and Negatives on Your Resume”

  1. Ruth Shapiro Associates March 13, 2010 11:17 am

    To add to this helpful article: when writing a functional resume to highlight accomplishments and minimize employment gaps I advise clients to connect the company name to the accomplishment. You will enhance credibility as you end with the chronological employment history.

    Ruth Shapiro

  2. lisavaas March 13, 2010 3:13 pm

    That’s great advice, Ruth, thanks!

  3. Jim Hughes March 24, 2010 1:44 pm

    Subject: GAP explanation

    Ever since a very long gap in my resume, I have had difficulty closing the jobs I desire. People look at my resume which begins with 3 years at IBN, 17 years at Digital Equipment Corporation and freeze when they see a “Medical disability.” I explain in the resume and verbally that after my last company closed as a result of 9/11, I decided to finally get my knee replaced after many other surguries on the same knee. It was finally time based on the pain. I went in on Thanksgiving day in 2001. I was expecting to be out and start my job search in January of 2002. As a result of complication, many months in different hospitals, rehabs and finally getting the first knee taken out and another replacement put in, I got back on my feet in January of 2004. No, that’s not a typo.

    Today, and for the last 6 years, I have lost out on some perfect roles, and I believe it is because they are concerned about my health.

    Any suggestions?
    Thank you!

    • lisavaas April 23, 2010 7:34 pm

      Hey Jim,

      So sorry to hear that employers are freezing when they see your medical downtime—something that obviously shouldn’t have any negative reflection on you or your work capabilities. What have you been doing since you got back on your feet in 2004? Have you been working? Keeping up with current advances in your field? It’s hard to believe that they’d be biased against you on the basis of a lapse that you’ve since recovered from, particularly assuming that you’ve managed to be productive for the past 6 years.

      If somebody were to cite explicitly that they didn’t think you could do the job based on a 6-year-old employment gap, they could well be exposing themselves to charges of illegal discrimination. From what you say, however, it sounds more like you suspect it’s the reason, not that you know it’s the reason, so it would be tough to prove anything in court.

      But I’m assuming that you have in fact been offered jobs in the past 6 years, right? In which case I’d guess that not all employers have this concern. The best advice I have for you is to bring up the employment gap before they do so themselves. Do it in a positive way by emphasizing that the injury no longer hampers your productivity, and then prove it to them by pointing to specific quantifiables you’ve accomplished in your jobs in the past six years.

      Best of luck!