Have you ever been nervous during a job interview, wondering what the interviewer would think about that gap in your resume?

Maybe you had a baby, cared for a sick relative, or were laid off?

If you have a gap in your resume, you're not alone!

An interviewer holding a resume in front of him, and when he brings it down, a smiling woman is seated before him.

It's not unusual to have a break in your work history. And like everything else, how you present it (and yourself) matters.

Follow these effective strategies to explain the gaps.

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Volunteer Work

A great way to help smooth over a resume gap is by showing that you volunteered for an organization. You don't have to get paid to get great experience developing business skills and working with others.

Photo of four volunteers, arms draped over each other's shoulders, wearing blue "Volunteer" t-shirts.

During your interview, consider discussing valuable job skills you developed in your volunteer gig.

  • Did you organize data into a database?

  • Did you coordinate volunteer schedules?

  • Did you lead a team effort?

These are all skills that translate on the job that employers may find useful!


You're interviewing for a job as a software developer. What kind of skills earned through volunteering might be directly applicable to your target job?

Continuing Education

Learning new skills is a great way to keep yourself busy and make yourself attractive to employers in general. When you have a gap in employment, it's also a great way to explain how you spent your time.

Baby eagerly looking at book. Think about discussing how you continued to grow your skills during your period of unemployment.

  • Did you learn coding or graphic design through YouTube videos?

  • Did you read books on the industry you're trying to enter?

  • Did you take a class at the local college?

Whatever you did, let your interviewer know about it!


What sort of continuing education classes might appeal to a tech employer?

Explain the Gap

Sometimes we're laid off or our work positions are terminated. Other times, we need to care for children, elderly parents, or ourselves, which sometimes requires us to take breaks in employment. Be forthright and explain the reason for the gap.

White businessman in a suit, saying

Gap Due to Layoffs

Young man with brown skin and dark hair sitting in an office, opposite an open laptop. Photo by The Jopwell Collection on Unsplash

If you were laid off, keep the explanation brief, but accurate. Remember, you can also explain your situation in the cover letter if you wish, or verbally in your interview.

How would you explain this gap in an interview?

"My company restructured, and unfortunately, I was among a number of employees who were let go. My reviews were always excellent, and I was a team player, but unfortunately, my position was no longer needed."

Gap Due to Pandemic

Two yellow post-its on a business door that read Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

The pandemic caused 114 million to lose their jobs in 2020 alone, so an employer will likely understand! Make sure they know the job loss wasn't performance-related.

How would you explain the gap in an interview?

"During the early part of the pandemic, our company lost 40% of its revenue, and as a result, I was one of a number of employees who were let go."

Remember, you can also use the cover letter to explain your circumstances.

Gap Due to Caregiving or Medical Issues

A caregiver holding someone's hand on a hospital bed Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Briefly explain the situation, and focus on how you're ready to get to work and contribute to the organization.

How would you explain the gap in an interview?

"My elderly mother broke her hip, and I needed to take several months off to take care of her. She's doing much better now, and I am ready to take on a new career challenge."


Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes, and every time you interview, it's another opportunity to practice your skills.

A dark haired, white professional woman saying,

Become familiar with some of the common questions employers ask about resume gaps and practice your responses to them with a friend or family member to ensure that you feel comfortable and prepared when interview time rolls around. Here are a few examples of questions you might get:

  • "Can you tell me a little about your employment gap?"

  • "Why did you decide to go back to work?"

  • "Did you learn any new skills during your gap?"


What can do to prepare to address your employment gap? Select all that apply.

Take Action

Are you ready to confidently explain the gaps in your resume?

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