How to Explain a Career Break on Your Resume

I am often asked by Mums, returning to work, how to explain the break in their work history. This question is also asked by people who may have taken some time off due to illness, to care for a family member or to study and perhaps even travel.

Time away from the workforce can often mean that you have gaps in your resume. While it is important to show what you did during this time, it is also important to remain professional and relevant.

It is best to make a positive statement about what you did, or have been doing, in the time away. Then focus on why you’re ready to go back to work.

Here’s an example from the resume of a mother of 3 who has had an 8 year break from paid work.

After taking an extended break from my career in Marketing to have and raise three children and undertake a major house renovation, it is time for me to refocus my energy on finding my next challenge.

This statement may be included in the cover letter or be positioned in the Professional Summary at the beginning of the resume.

‘Employers don’t just want to know where you’ve been and what you’ve done – they want to know what you can do now’.

My Future

This means that there’s also the opportunity to consider the voluntary experiences you have had during the work break.

How to explain Re-training or Study Leave

When on maternity leave with my second child, I decided to re-train. The example below is from my LinkedIn Profile and shows how I explain this period of my professional life.

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How to display Voluntary Experience

When my children were toddlers I played an active role helping the local community toy library. Here is how I feature this experience on my LinkedIn Profile.

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However you decide to show your experience during an extended work break, I recommend you tailor the resume to your target employer and make sure it is relevant to the role you are applying for and the key selection criteria displayed in the job advertisement. And don’t forget the importance of LinkedIn for potential employers to assess you and your suitability for the role!

In this MyFuture article there is lots of detailed advice about how to transition to work after a long break.

Karen Hollenbach

Karen Hollenbach

Thank you for reading my insights.

As a storyteller, I help quieter and thoughtful folk communicate better online (and offline). I enjoy the complexity of people and helping others through my coaching, training and online courses.

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Karen Hollenbach