Career Gaps : What job seekers need to know?
If you’re a job seeker with a career gap on your resume, you may be wondering how to address this issue in your job search. While it’s natural to worry about how a career gap will be perceived by potential employers, it’s important to remember that career gaps are not uncommon and there are ways to make the most of this time and address any concerns about your employment history.
What is a career gap?
A career gap, also known as an employment gap or resume gap, refers to a period of time in a person’s work history when they were not employed or actively seeking work. Career gaps can occur for a variety of reasons, such as taking time off to care for a family member, traveling, or pursuing further education.
Different types of career gaps
There are many different types of career gaps, and they can vary in length and reason. Some common types of career gaps include:
Maternity or paternity leave: Taking time off to care for a new child is a common reason for a career gap. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 55% of mothers with young children are in the labor force, and many of these women take some time off work after the birth or adoption of a child
Health issues: Sometimes, an illness or injury can prevent a person from working and result in a career gap. According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 25% of adults in the United States reported having a chronic health condition that limited their activities in some way
Education: Going back to school or pursuing additional degrees can also lead to a career gap in a person’s work history. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, about 43% of adults in the United States have some college education but no degree
Travel: Taking time off to travel, whether for personal or professional reasons, can also result in a career gap. According to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council, international tourist arrivals grew by
3.9% in 2019, reaching a total of 1.5 billion travelers
Personal reasons: Other personal reasons, such as caring for a family member or dealing with a family emergency, can also lead to a career gap. According to data from the Family Caregiver Alliance, more than 90 million Americans provide care to a family member or friend with a chronic illness or disability
How long is too long for a career gap?
There is no hard and fast rule for how long is too long for a career gap. However, the longer the gap, the more likely it is to be noticed by potential employers and raise questions. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average length of unemployment for workers in the United States is about five weeks. While it is not uncommon for people to take extended periods of time off work for various reasons, extended gaps in employment may make it harder for a person to re-enter the workforce.
Is a career gap same as a sabbatical?
While a career gap and a sabbatical may seem similar at first glance, they are actually quite different. A sabbatical is typically a planned break from work that is taken for the purpose of rest, renewal, or further education. Sabbaticals are often offered by employers as a way to allow employees to recharge and come back to work with fresh perspective and new skills. A career gap, on the other hand, is generally an unplanned break from work and is not always tied to a specific purpose or goal.
Should I worry about a career gap in my resume?
As a job seeker, it is natural to worry about how a career gap may be perceived by potential employers. However, it is important to remember that career gaps are not uncommon, and there are ways to address them in your resume and job applications.
The employer’s perspective on career gaps:
While it is true that a career gap may raise questions for potential employers, it is important to remember that every employer and situation is different. Some employers may be more understanding of career gaps and may be willing to overlook them if the candidate has other strong qualifications. Others may be more concerned about gaps in employment and may ask for more information or explanation during the hiring process.
Tips for addressing a career gap in your resume and job applications
Be upfront about the gap in your resume. It is better to address the gap directly in your resume rather than trying to hide it.
Explain the reason for the gap in your cover letter or during an interview. Be honest and straightforward about the reason for the gap, whether it was for personal or professional reasons.
Highlight any relevant skills or experience you gained during the gap. If you took a career break to pursue additional education, for example, make sure to highlight any relevant coursework or certifications on your resume. If you took time off to care for a family member, you may have gained valuable skills in organization and time management that you can highlight in your job applications.
How to make the most of a career gap?
While a career gap can be a challenging time, it can also be an opportunity to pursue new goals and develop new skills. Here are some options for making the most of a career gap as a job seeker
If you are looking to get back into the workforce, internships and volunteering can be a great way to gain experience and make connections in your field. Many organizations offer unpaid internships or volunteer positions, which can be a good way to build your skills and resume while you are searching for a paid position.
A career gap can also be a good time to focus on developing new skills. Consider taking online courses or workshops in areas that interest you, or consider learning a new language or software program. These skills can be valuable to potential employers and may help you stand out in the job market.
A career gap can also be a good time to focus on personal growth. Consider taking up a new hobby or pursuing other interests that you may not have had time for while working. This can help you stay engaged and motivated during your career gap.
Do’s and don’ts for explaining a career gap in your resume
As a job seeker, it is important to be honest and straightforward when explaining a career gap in your resume. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind
- Be honest about the reason for the gap.
- Highlight any relevant skills or experience you gained during the gap.
- Consider using a functional resume format to focus on your skills and achievements rather than your work history
- Try to hide the gap or leave it unexplained
- Use vague or misleading language to describe the gap
- Apologize or make excuses for the gap
How a year or two of career gap can prove productive for you
As a job seeker, it is natural to worry about the impact of a career gap on your employment prospects. However, it is important to remember that a career gap can also have benefits. Taking time off work can provide an opportunity for rest, renewal, and personal growth. It can also be a good time to pursue new goals or develop new skills.
A year or two of career gap can be particularly productive if you use the time wisely. Consider taking on internships or volunteering opportunities to gain experience and make connections in your field. You can also focus on skills development and personal growth during this time. This could involve taking online courses or workshops, learning a new language or software program, or pursuing other interests or hobbies. By making the most of your career gap, you can come back to the workforce with new skills and experiences that can help you stand out to potential employers.
In conclusion, a career gap can be a challenging but also a valuable and productive time for job seekers. While it is important to address any concerns about your employment history, there are ways to make the most of a career gap and come back to the workforce with new skills and experiences. Remember to be honest and straightforward about the reason for your career gap, and highlight any relevant skills and achievements you gained during this time. By taking a proactive approach, you can turn a potential liability into an asset in your job search.