Outside pressures, restraints, or issues, can force you to take a sudden career “time-out.” A loss of a job, a family crisis, or another personal event can be a cause for gap in your job history. How you handle these potential gaps will be important when looking for a new job.
Reasons for “time-outs” or gaps
The reasons for suddenly leaving a job are usually personal and varied. Here are some that I have heard recently:
- Family business needed leadership
- Spouse received a job offer in a different state
- Family member was seriously ill
- Family member died
- Child needed special close attention
- Child was born or adopted and needed personal care
- Individual experienced burnout
- Individual was ill or injured
- Individual incurred sudden job loss
Ways to handle gaps
Resumes should reflect your entire job history. Contrary to popular belief, resumes should not be one or two pages or include only your last 10 years of employment. Prospective employers or recruiters will ask about your entire work history, and will be suspect if parts are missing on your resume. So include your early jobs and be brief and open about all early employers and positions.
If a gap happened in the middle of your career or has occurred more recently, you will need to explain the circumstances to a hiring manager. Include an explanation in a cover letter or discuss in a phone or in-person interview. Be prepared for the discussion and have your script ready.
Hiring managers or recruiters are aware that life events can happen to anyone. The way you present yourself and your attitude about any job gaps says a great deal about you as a person. You will move ahead as a candidate if you present your work experience, education, and accomplishments with openness and transparency.