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Career breaks on your resume

A common question I'm asked is about how to represent career breaks on a resume.

Career breaks on resume

While there are no set rules about this, the first thing I will say is that it is perfectly acceptable and extremely common to have gaps on your resume!

And frankly, if a employer has an issue with you taking time off to have children, go travelling or care for a family member, then I suspect you probably don't want to work for them anyway!

(Their reaction can be a good guage of company culture.)

Below I share some general ideas about how to represent career breaks on your resume, but really, how you talk about career breaks (if at all) is a personal decision - it's up to you!

Here are my general suggestions or rule of thumb for career breaks on the resume:

  • How long have you been away from work? If it was less than one year, you could choose to ignore the gap and leave it off your resume.

  • And if you left and went back to the same job, there is no real need to say that you had time off in the middle.

  • For a longer gap (more than one year) you could acknowledge the gap in the 'career history' section of your resume, if your resume is chronological.

So, if you are going to acknowledge a career break on your resume, what do you actually write?

I suggest simply writing "Career Break" and the dates.

You could also add a bit more detail if you prefer such as:

  • Career Break: Parental Leave / Travel / Carer's Leave / Study / Relocation

There is no need to list any further detail about what you did on your break unless you want to.

And remember, just because you had a break from your career, you didn't lose your skills.

In fact, you probably gained some more!

So in your resume and application always focus on your skills, not the fact that you have had a break from paid work.

I hope you found this article helpful. Further resources:

I have a whole lesson on how to manage career breaks, gaps, and freelance work in the Not Just a Resume Template program.
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