Hi Mark,

Do gaps in your employment history need to be explained on the resume?

(i.e. do I need to have a continuous timeline with explanations next to each segement)

OR, do you simply need to have an explanation ready for the interview?

My example:

At 38, I was downsized from my executive level position at a very large Canadian telco in August 2004. I immediately took about a year off to reassess and unwind from the 80 hour weeks I'd been working for several years. I have subsequently been "working" as a consultant.

This leaves a two year space since my last "job" to today.
How is this best displayed on the resume? so that the empty time does not raise questions before you even get a chance to explain in the interview. (As Mike A. would say, if you even get one) :)


Peter.westley's picture


FWIW, I have had a similar 'gap'. I have been able to fill it adequately on the resume by simply listing a line that says something like:

Apr 2003 – Sep 2003: Travel; relocate to Australia

With no further explanation. Also, the stint I've most recently finished was as an independant consultant, and while I haven't had a huge number of appointments (listing them would show lots of gaps), I simply show the time as:

Oct 2003 – Present: Director and Principal, Leadership and Teamwork consultancy

Which says nothing about how busy I was or wasn't.

Hope that helps (and now I guess I shouldn't expect to get an interview from anyone watching this forum!!)


Mark's picture

Mike (and Peter)-

First of all, yes, in PRINCIPLE it's good to have a continuous employment history.

That said, it's NEVER a good idea to fudge, or to go to stating years rather than months in your job tenures. THAT is a red flag.

If you were to leave a job on Jan 1 and start the next one on Feb 28, that looks fine, obviously. If you started March 1, a month missing is also fine as well. If you had 3 months even, it's probably fine.

The way to handle your situation is to state that time as you working for yourself, whether you looked for 6 months and then "gave up and started my own company" - that sounds funny - or looked for a week or didn't look.

Of course, for your own company, you need to list accomplishments just like any other, and if you have none, that's not great.

BUT... there are very few companies who are going to ding you for trying your own gig and failing. In fact, executives will consider it a plus in many cases. They won't so much focus on the failure, but rather on the guts it took and the hours they know you spent running and building it.

I also think capturing a 3-6 month hiatus as Peter recommends is completely fine.