Writing A Resume After Being Out Of The Workforce: How To Address Your Employment Gap

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Are you ready to re-enter the workforce after taking a break? Writing a resume after being out of the workforce can be daunting. You may feel like you have fallen behind on the latest industry trends and skills needed for the job market. Additionally, addressing your employment gap can be challenging. However, don’t let these obstacles hold you back from pursuing your career goals. With the right approach and mindset, you can create a compelling resume that highlights your skills and accomplishments, while addressing your employment gap.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of writing a resume after being out of the workforce. We will help you understand your skills and accomplishments, address your employment gap, tailor your resume to the job description, choose the right format, and seek feedback and support.

By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of how to create a resume that showcases your unique strengths and experiences, while positioning you as a strong candidate in the job market.

Key Takeaways

  • Identify and highlight transferable skills and accomplishments gained during the break, including volunteering.
  • Address the employment gap in a positive and honest way, using the cover letter to explain the reason for the break and show a clear plan for the career change.
  • Consider using a functional resume format for those with gaps in their employment history or changing careers, and tailor the resume to the job description.
  • Seek feedback and support from trusted friends, colleagues, and career counselors, as well as emphasize transferable skills and volunteer work in creating a winning resume.

Understand Your Skills and Accomplishments

You’ve likely gained valuable skills and accomplishments during your time away from the workforce, so it’s important to identify and highlight them on your resume.

Start by listing all the tasks and projects you’ve accomplished while away, even if they seem small or insignificant. Then, focus on highlighting transferable skills that can be applied to various industries or roles. These may include communication, leadership, problem-solving, and time-management skills, among others.

Another way to showcase your capabilities is to emphasize any volunteer work you’ve done during your employment gap. Volunteering not only demonstrates your commitment to giving back to the community but also provides an opportunity to gain new skills and network with professionals.

Be sure to include any relevant volunteer experience on your resume, highlighting the skills and accomplishments you acquired through these experiences. By showcasing your transferable skills and volunteer work, you’ll demonstrate to potential employers that you’re a well-rounded candidate with valuable experience, even if it’s been some time since you’ve been in the workforce.

a woman addressing her employment gap in her resume
A woman addressing her employment gap in her resume

Address Your Employment Gap

Now that you’ve taken some time away from the professional world, it’s important to address your employment gap in your resume. Here are some strategies you can use:

  1. Be honest: Don’t try to hide your employment gap or make up excuses. Instead, explain the reason for your break in a positive way, such as taking time off to care for a family member or pursuing further education.
  2. Focus on your skills: Use your resume to showcase the skills and experiences you gained during your time away from work. This could include volunteer work, freelance projects, or personal projects that demonstrate your abilities and passion for your industry.
  3. Consider a functional resume: A functional resume focuses on your skills and accomplishments rather than your work history. This can be a useful format if you have a significant employment gap or are making a career change.
  4. Address the gap in your cover letter: Use your cover letter to explain your employment gap and how it has prepared you for your desired position. This can show potential employers that you are proactive and have a clear plan for your career change.

By addressing your employment gap in a positive and honest way, you can demonstrate to potential employers that your time away from work has provided you with valuable skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate for the job.

Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description

It’s crucial to tailor your CV to the job description to maximize your chances of landing the gig, but don’t just copy-paste buzzwords like a robot – make it genuine and show that you’re a perfect fit! #YOLO.

Highlight relevant experience that you’ve gained from volunteering or freelancing during your employment gap. For example, if you’re applying for a job in marketing, draw attention to any marketing-related tasks you’ve done for a non-profit organization or for your own business.

Emphasize transferrable skills that you’ve acquired from your previous work experience. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, you may have developed skills that are not job-specific but can be applied in a wide range of industries. These skills might include project management, communication, or problem-solving.

Make sure to highlight these skills in your resume and show how they can benefit the company you’re applying to. By tailoring your CV to the job description and emphasizing your relevant experience and transferrable skills, you can show potential employers that you’re the best candidate for the job.

Choose the Right Format

Picking the appropriate format for your CV can make all the difference in showcasing your skills and experience to potential employers. When choosing the right format, you’ll want to consider two main options: chronological and functional.

The chronological format is the most traditional and straightforward, listing your work experience in reverse chronological order. This format is best for those with a consistent work history and who want to emphasize their career progression.

On the other hand, the functional format emphasizes your skills and accomplishments rather than your work history. This is a great option for those who have gaps in their employment history or who are changing careers. However, it may not be the best choice if you have a strong work history to highlight.

a guy writing a resume after workforce
A guy writing a resume after workforce

Ultimately, the decision between a chronological and functional format depends on your individual situation and what you want to emphasize in your resume. Consider the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.

To help you decide, here are some additional factors to consider:

  • Chronological resumes are easy for employers to read and follow, making it a safe choice for most job seekers.
  • Functional resumes can help job seekers with a diverse skill set or who want to change careers by highlighting their transferable skills.
  • Chronological resumes emphasize work experience and may not be the best choice for those with gaps in their employment history.
  • Functional resumes may raise eyebrows for employers who expect to see a traditional work history and may require more explanation during the interview process.

Seek Feedback and Support

Getting feedback and support from trusted friends and colleagues during the resume creation process can be like having a team of coaches helping you perfect your game plan. Networking opportunities can provide a valuable resource for job seekers looking to re-enter the workforce.

Reaching out to former colleagues, attending industry events, and connecting with alumni groups can all provide valuable insights into current hiring trends and what employers are looking for in a candidate. In addition, career counseling can help job seekers identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop a strategy for marketing themselves to potential employers.

It’s important to remember that the job search process can be challenging and overwhelming, especially for those who’ve been out of the workforce for a period of time. Seeking out the support of trusted friends and colleagues can help relieve some of the pressure and provide a sounding board for ideas. Career counseling can also provide valuable resources and guidance for job seekers looking to create a winning resume and land their dream job.

With the right feedback and support, anyone can create a resume that showcases their unique strengths and sets them apart from the competition.


Remember, being out of the workforce does not define your worth as a candidate. By highlighting your skills and accomplishments and addressing your employment gap, you’re already ahead of the game.

With these tips and a little bit of perseverance, you can land your dream job and continue building a successful career. Good luck!

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Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories. She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.