why are time gaps bad?

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why are time gaps bad?

Postby AL » Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:42 pm


I read often (on this forum and elsewhere) that large gaps of time (more than a few months?) on a resume are considered bad and that these can disqualify a candidate.

Is this because a candidate might be trying to cover up a bad work experience?

I have often taken time off between jobs - to take classes, relax, indulge myself a little. What is the best way to indicate that I wasn't working during those periods and have no skeletons to hide?

Thank you in advance for your answer,


why are time gaps bad?

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Dec 03, 2004 11:16 am

Hi Al,

Great question. Time gaps are usually a problem because hiring managers and HR people generally assume the worst. They won't assume that you had been working at 150 percent on a job for two years, and that you needed a well-deserved break. Instead, they'll think you got canned and then couldn't get rehired anywhere. (Its the nature of the beast. The hiring process is indeed a beast, isn't it!).

If your gaps are small, like 4-5 weeks, you can just put down the years for the job and they blend in OK. But then some interviewers will ask you for the specific dates for those jobs -- or the application will. The best bet is to show the month and year of the employment, and hope your gaps are not too large in between.

In the interview, address your gaps before you are asked about them, that's the best way to defuse the issue.

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why are time gaps bad?

Postby Bill L. » Fri Dec 03, 2004 4:24 pm


I agree with Dave, it depends how long the gap is, and the employer will probably balance it against what skills and experiences you're bringing to the table. That said, if the time lapse is about a year, which is a bit large, I've seen some folks just addressed the issue in the cover letter as part of the narrative that still highlights their productivity.

For example, within a paragraph, if discussing a job break that happened between two jobs a while ago, you'd say something like:

"In my two year postdoc in lab X, I gained X & Y technical skills, and my work resulted in a first author publication in Science Magazine. After a hiatus, I began working at Lab Z, focused on X, Y, and Z. My responsibilities also included A, B and supervisory duties of three staff members. etc., etc.

In short, they just slide it in. It's a personal choice, some people don't want to bring up anything that can be considered negative, but at least here you get to craft the narrative in which you share what you realize is a glaring question.

Be well,

Bill L. & Naledi S.
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