The Resume Dilemma: How to address Employment gaps and job-hopping

The Resume dilemma: How to address Employment gaps and job-hopping

You have an employment gap you cannot control. Not to worry, you are not alone.  Many of us are forced to take time off, for one reason or another, from our careers. Maybe it’s by choice as you were raising a child, going to school, or taking care of a relative. In other cases, your time off is a result of a poor economy and you were laid off or fired and it took time to find a new job.

So, what is the best way to explain a work gap on your resume and during an interview? The short answer? It depends on your situation and what you did while you weren’t employed.

The 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic upended our economy and layoffs or furloughs were common.  It would be expected that employers will understand if you’ve been affected, especially in certain industry sectors. However, if you are dealing with recent periods of unemployment extending for several years, you will need to start strategizing.

What is the average job tenure? The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4 years in January 2020.  Therefore, many employers will not consider anyone for hire in Professional level positions that have an average of 2 years or less.  However, we have a few ideas to help!

Here are some strategies to put a better spin on your resume.

Bear in mind that Recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers are trained to recognize and assess employment gaps and evaluate your reliability. Proactively addressing the issue may be the best method. This can be done on the resume or at the time of the interview. Not even getting the interview?  Then it NEEDS to be addressed on the resume.

Avoid converting to the “Functional” resume format. Hiring Managers are trained to toss this resume style out as it draws attention to a lack of career stability. It is widely known that job seekers try to hide their spotty work histories by submitting this resume format.

Fill your time.

Instead, add self-improvement activities to fill that time period. You might have added non-work experience relevant to your job target, regardless of whether you were paid. You can add service, volunteering projects, consulting engagements and continuing education in the experience section of the resume to demonstrate your best use of time.

If you’re returning to the workforce after an extended work absence, show how you’ve kept up-to-date with changes in your industry. This can be added in the Education or “other activities” section of the resume.

Use the “lumping” technique.

If you worked on several temp or consulting assignments in a period of time, you can combine them and increase your job tenure average. However, this technique only works when your job responsibilities were similar.


2018-2021 Accounting Consultant

Employer- Various Staffing and Consulting Agencies

(List all responsibilities and project highlights across all work assignments or gigs)

Explain your reasons.

Another solution is to utilize the Cover Letter or Summary section of the resume to address a history of job-hopping. This may help you put a positive spin on your circumstances and your interest in a long-term position. Your cover letter is a great place to explain significant gaps in employment because it allows you to go into detail about how you used your time unemployed to prepare to return to the workforce. Explaining employment gaps in your cover letter and resume also shows recruiters and hiring managers that you are honest and trustworthy, which can help make you stand out from other candidates.

One of the best candidates I assisted in the past was the wife of a Military Leader. They moved across the world and it, unfortunately, made her resume have short tenure and large time gaps. When we were able to explain the situation, the time commitment of the deployment, then job opportunities opened up.

Take the Positive Spin approach.

If there’s nothing you can do to change your work experience, so the best strategy is to develop a forward-looking resume that shows the value you offer potential employers. Offer a robust Qualifications Summary, summing up your key qualifications for the position. This will draw attention to your strengths. Use quantifiable results to demonstrate your impact. Show employers how you made them money or saved them money.


In the first year as Sales Account Manager, was able to close $2M in business with 15 new customers and improved the ROI by 20%.

Build Trust.

Ask your trusted former colleagues for Reference letters or online recommendations on LinkedIn.   You can also use positive review quotes from a customer or supervisor.  If you achieved any employment awards, this could become a valuable asset to your character.  It is imperative that you demonstrate why you should be trusted.

Above all, be truthful.

Do not misrepresent your employment status by indicating “to present” on your resume. Do not extend your job length, this is easy to uncover and will damage your reputation.

We wish you the very best in your career and job search. To apply for our current openings, just send us your new fancy updated resume!  For more resume, interview and career tips follow us on social media.

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