In a highly-competitive job market, your resume is often the only thing preventing your job application from getting lost in the crowd. Naturally, that means that you need it to be as polished and attractive as possible to capture an employer’s interest. But what happens when you have one of those dreaded employment gaps in your history? Does that gap represent a fatal weakness in your resume, or is there a way to explain it and still land that interview? Well, if that gap was caused by an accident, surgery, injury, or illness, there’s good news. There is a way to explain medical-related resume gaps and minimize their negative impact.
Resume employment gaps come in many shapes and sizes. Many employees end up with gaps after a lengthy period of unemployment. That often occurs as the result of a recession or other downturns in the economy. Others experience a personal tragedy like the loss of a loved one and take significant time away from work to deal with that loss. Still others suffer an accident, injury, or illness – or need to recover in the aftermath of surgery. These medical-related resume gaps can present an obstacle to job-seekers who want to showcase a consistent work record.
The problem is that most of us don’t want to discuss our private medical matters with strangers. We have become accustomed to the idea that health care is a private concern. We may even resent someone prying into areas of our lives that we consider private. Worse, we may be fearful that our prior health concerns may deter employers from hiring us.
To overcome these concerns, it is important to put things in perspective. Yes, medical issues are private matters – but you will need to explain that time away from work.
That may leave you little choice other than to reveal that medical issue. Fortunately, you won’t need to go into detail about any medical-related resume gaps. However, you will have to acknowledge them and should be ready to discuss the issue if asked during an interview.
The other thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Many workers need to contend with medical-related resume gaps. Of course, that also means that this is an issue that won’t come as a surprise to too many employers. That can work to your benefit. Since these issues are common, hiring managers are familiar with these types of gaps.
It is vital to know how to explain medical-related resume gaps. To help you meet this challenge, we have compiled a list of tips that you can use:
First, do not get so caught up in any medical-related resume gaps that you overdo the explanation. Try to keep that explanation as simple and matter-of-fact as possible. There’s no need to go into excruciating details about the accident, injury, or illness. Instead, just acknowledge the gap and offer a direct explanation for why you needed time away. Since the issue is most likely behind you, it is also important to note that your health is back to normal. That can help to easy any concerns that the resume gap may raise.
There is a reason for not going into too much detail about your time away, of course. If you focus on it too much, it can become a distraction. Worse, it may even appear to be a weakness within an otherwise solid resume. To avoid that possibility, you should focus your resume on your strengths. Acknowledge the gap, explain it, and move on to your skills and achievements. Remember, your employer may be interested in that resume gap, but he or she will only hire you if you’re qualified!
Emphasize those qualifications by focusing on your value as an employee. You have certain strengths and abilities, right? Well, make those the centerpiece of your narrative, offering concrete examples of how your strengths have created value for previous employers. If you can properly showcase that value to a prospective employer, you can set yourself apart from your job search rivals.
Finally, you should be prepared to discuss the issue in any interview. Even the best resume can leave employers with further questions. If the topic comes up during an interview, make sure that you have answers ready. In most instances, the employer will only want to be sure that the medical issue is resolved. Just focus on providing those reassurances and let the strength of your resume carry through to that job offer you’re seeking.
I left my position at XXXXX Corp after an accident that left me unable to fulfill my duties. After seven months of rehabilitative therapy, I recovered my lost mobility and was cleared for employment by my doctor. I am now eager for an opportunity to once again channel my talents and skills in a productive way, and am confident that I can provide tremendous value to your organization.
The most important thing to remember about all this is that employers have reasons for worrying about resume gaps. Many want to ensure that you weren’t away in jail. Others need to know that you’re not a job nomad, wandering from company to company. The best way to negate those concerns is to address your medical-related resume gaps directly. When you do, that employer will be able to more easily focus on your true potential as a prospective employee!