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Explaining Breaks in Employment

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Many of my students ask me if employers will hold it against you when you have breaks in employment.  

Most employers will ask you if you have had a break in employment, and why.  Having an answer that is believable, honest, and productive can be the difference between a job offer and a "sorry, we've picked someone else".

Here are some very valid reasons for gaps in employment.  They aren't an exhaustive list, but can help those of you out of work with how to frame it in an interview.

- Care of a child/relative
- Stay at home mom/dad for X years.
- Return to school
- Volunteered while looking for a new position after a layoff
- Health issues that were resolved, allowing me to return to work
- Relocated due to spouse's position being relocated, and had to leave my position until I found a new one in the new town

One student asked me today if this kind of information should be put onto a resume.  Clearly, if the information is very personal to you, you can leave that off the resume, but put honest dates of employment.  

If you have only very short breaks in employment, you can list on your resume the years you worked at a company, and leave out the months.  Very often on the application itself, you will be asked for exact dates, but for the resume,  I find it is fine to just list the years.

Lastly, don't feel bad if you've had gaps in employment (I've had a couple myself).  One was related to leaving one position, and the start date of the new one being delayed.  Another was about 3 weeks between leaving Florida and starting a new job in Boston.  My final one was a month off I took between leaving retail and starting my business.  

We all may have gaps; whenwe realize that, I think it makes it much more comfortable to explain to people what they are.


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