gaps on your resume

This post is specifically about addressing employment gaps on your resume. There are several posts online talking about how to explain employment gaps in your resume in an interview. But surprisingly nothing of great quality about how to actually write these up on your actual CV or resume.

It is critical that you do acknowledge employment gaps in your resume. Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you are a professional such as a doctor, employers expect a full work history so any employment gap is going to be obvious to a trained eye.
  • It is best to list gaps in the appropriate spot in the chronological order of your work history.
  • If your gap was for personal or family reasons, such as having children or caring for a loved one. All you need to do is write the date of the time off work and “personal reasons” or “family reasons”
  • Some gaps, for example time off to study or time off to do volunteer work might merit a little bit more information, particularly if they enhance your employability
  • If during your “gap” you have actually been working in another type of job. Then you don’t actually have a gap. You should just include this work in your work history. Despite what you think it will be seen as a good things by employers in countries like Australia.

So you are probably wondering at this point, why do you need to address an employment gap in your CV or resume? Let’s dig into that a bit further. And then go over the most common scenarios where you might see employment gaps on resumes.

Why Gaps On Your Resume Are Important to Address.

In a job such as medicine it is a big deal that you tell the truth and a requirement that you do not lie on your resume. Whilst its possibly a bit of a grey area, omitting things of substance, will not generally go over well.

When someone from a selection panel reviews your resume and sees a big hole in it between, for example, your resident year and your senior resident year. They will wonder why this is the case. They will wonder whether something bad happened, such as you being dismissed from your post for performance reasons.

You don’t want to leave this hanging in the air.

The problem, of course, is that many of the reasons for taking time off in a job such as medicine are not related to your work or employability, but other things that you are passionate about in your life. And some of these things can bring in to scope the issue of job discrimination.

So how do you best deal appropriately with this situation?

Where Do You List Gaps In Employment On Your Resume?

I generally recommend that you do this in the most obvious place, the employment history section. In the appropriate place, i.e. between the job before your time and the next time you were employed. This makes it easy for the person reviewing your resume to find and comprehend.

If, however, you feel that this might detract from the look and feel of your work section you can alternatively add another heading in your resume entitled “Gaps in Employment” and then list your gaps here.

I tend to advise my clients against this as its drawing more attention than is necessary.

So. Now we know where to write up gaps on your resume. Let’s talk about how to write about the specific types of gaps.

What to Do If Your Resume Gap Is Due to Having Children.

Questions and information about your family are an off-limit area for your prospective employer. Whilst being a good Mum or Dad is definitely a translatable skill. For these gaps on your resume, you are best off not providing any further details.

Simply write something like: “family reasons” or “family leave” or even something less specific such as “personal reasons”.

What to Do If Your Resume Gap Is Due to Caring for A Family Member.

Similar to having children. Your prospective employer does not need to know the details of your child caring arrangements or sick relative. Once again for these gaps on your resume, you can just simply indicate that the time off was for “family reasons” or “personal reasons”.

What to Do If the Gaps On Your Resume Are Due to Travelling.

The desire to take time off to travel is understandable to most employers. In most situations, your vacation probably didn’t result in you obtaining a new skill related to your employability. Even if you personally feel your trip to South America effectively dealt with your burn-out. So for these gaps on your resume, you can just say something like “time off to travel”

What to Do If the Gap On Your Resume Is Due to Study.

In most cases, the study you are undertaking will have some form of relevance to your medical career. So here it’s worth spending a few words explaining your time off to study.

For example, you may have taken 6 months off to prepare for your major examinations. So you might write something like: “I took 6 months of approved leave from my post in order to prepare effectively for the [insert name of college] written examinations.”

As another example, your time off might have been to help complete a formal degree course that will advance your career. So you might write something like: “I took 6 months of approved leave in order to finalise my Masters in Medicine, including the publication of 2 research papers.” Remember, you will want to also spend some time explaining your formal study in the Education section of your resume as well.

What to Do If the Gap On Your Resume Is Due to Volunteering.

In general, volunteering work will be seen as commendable by prospective employers. And the experience is likely to have left you with some additional skills in terms of the general capabilities required of a doctor. For example, if we take the CanMEDS framework, volunteer work is likely to tick a number of boxes, including communicator, collaborator and health advocate.

So again for these particular gaps on your resume, it’s generally worth spending a few lines to provide some information about your volunteer activity.

For example: “During this period of approved leave I took time to work with an NGO in East Timor, where I was involved in the establishment of a new primary care clinic, the experience taught me some vital lessons about communicating across cultures different to my own and working with different types of health and non-healthcare team members, including roles that I would not normally come across in Australia, for e.g. health promotion officers.

What to Do If the Gaps On Your Resume Are Due to Moving Countries.

The process of moving country and re-establishing oneself in the local medical profession takes time. This is understood by employers. Generally during this time you are not just moving country but also studying or preparing yourself for the examinations required to become a doctor in that country.

So for these sorts of gaps on your resume, if we take an Australian example you might write something like:

“During this period of time I migrated to Australia and prepared myself for the Australian Medical Council exams. I also undertook an observership at Hospital X.”

Are the Gaps On Your Resume Really Gaps?

One final thing to consider is whether that gap on your resume is indeed a gap?

This is particularly the case with IMG doctors. Because often the gap is not because they are not working but just because they are not working in medicine. IMG doctors in Australia often take up other forms of employment whilst getting reaccredited in the country.

So you should really just write this up as another work experience on your resume. It is not seen as a bad thing by Australian employers. On the contrary its a sign that you are at least employable in Australia and can work in a team.

And there are generally more skills that you can demonstrate out of such experience.

Related Questions.

My gap in employment was a few weeks between jobs. Do I need to address this?

No. If your time between jobs was only a few weeks, then it’s not necessary to specifically indicate this on your resume.

How do I write a medical CV or resume?

If you are looking for more general guidance on how to construct your Medical CV or Resume then your next post to read is this one – How to Write a Medical CV, The Ultimate Illustrated Guide.
We also have lots of help over on our services site.


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