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Career break: how to handle on your resume

You’ve had a long break and want to re-enter the workforce. You’re struggling with your resume and are confused about how to ‘explain’ the gap between now and your previous role.

People take breaks for many reasons. They might be recovering from burnout, raising kids, or taking care of an ill family member. They may have decided to travel or pursue another dream. like studying. They may have worked (or volunteered) for a company in another industry, to broaden their horizons.

No matter what the reason, it’s best to think through how to pitch your career break so it’s logical on your written resume and so you can confidently explain it in an interview.

Get rid of the fear

Workplaces are different these days. We live in an age where career breaks are increasingly common and employers get that. They understand there are many valid reasons for such breaks and don’t automatically decide that it’s career limiting or assume there’s something wrong.

Be honest

Don’t try to hide your break. Be upfront, honest and transparent. If you took a break because you were burnt out at work and stressed to the max, you might not want to say so specifically. Instead think of saying that you took a break to recharge your batteries. The worse thing is not having an explanation.

Translate your experience into something valuable

During your break you’ll have learned new things—about yourself and life. You likely picked up new skills and strengths. This is what you should focus on in your resume.

Here are some examples of how to translate your experience into something valuable:

  • Studying taught me how to research and improve my writing skills.
  • Taking care of young kids helped strengthen my communications and time management skills.
  • Travelling taught me to manage time and resources.
  • Taking care of my critically ill parent improved my emotional intelligence.
  • Taking time off enabled me to recharge my batteries and gain a fresh perspective on life.
  • Volunteering in a new industry built my problem-solving skills and taught me a lot about diversity.

Think about presenting your resume using a skills-based approach

Using the traditional reverse-chronological approach to your resume will highlight your employment gap. If you think this is going to be a problem, use a skills-based approach to focus more on your career experiences and successes.

Other tips

  1.  Practice what you’ll say in an interview. Be straightforward and succinct and focus on the skills you learned while  away, pitching them as pluses for the employer. This will help you avoid ‘going blank’.
  2. Talk to a recruiter if you’re unsure how to explain or pitch your employment break. Expert recruiters deal with these situations more often than you think and they can advise you on the best approach.

Want to learn more?

 face2face Recruitment posts free career articles every week. Explore our previous articles.

We also offer free tools and templates.

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