How to Handle a Gap in Your Resume

How to Handle a Gap in Your Resume

by Kerry Scott on 6 May 2009

A reader writes:

I spent the last nine months caring for my mother, who was dying of cancer, and then took a little break (two months) to pull myself together.  How should I address this gap on my resume?   I am worried that people will think I was just lazy, especially since I took two months off after she died.

First, I’m really sorry about your mom.  Any reasonable person would understand why you needed a break after that.  I don’t think you have an issue there (and if you do, you’ve just discovered someone you definitely don’t want to be your boss).

I wouldn’t address this on the resume at all.  I’d end the resume with your last job, and include something in the cover letter like this:

I spent the last nine months caring for my mother, who was suffering from terminal cancer.  She passed away in March and I am now ready to return to work.

You really don’t need to say any more.  In fact, I’m not sure you need to say this at this stage; there are tons of people walking around with big gaps on their resumes right now, because the market is bad and the next job is no longer right around the corner.  You may be asked about it in the interview, though, so if you feel like this might be a tough thing to discuss in person, you can get it out of the way in your cover letter.

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HRPufnstuf May 7, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Great advice, the last thing you want to do is to be evasive or try to ride through and b.s. answer. Be honest, be brief.

Anonymous May 7, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Kerry, how the heck do we email you? I can’t find your email address on here.

Kerry Sandberg Scott May 7, 2009 at 7:51 pm

You can email me at kerry [at] cluewagon [dot] com (it’s on the “About” page).

Tim May 11, 2009 at 12:05 pm

I agree that a gap in one’s resume is unlikely to be a big deal going forward, all things considered. I think it will be the same for some other things that used to be considered red flags as well.

Tim’s last blog post..Specialization is for Insects

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