How to Deal with Gaps in Graduate Resumes and Applications

Glaring gaps on your resume and job application are bound to raise questions. Here are some tips on how you can explain them.
Carmen Teh
Writer, gradsingapore

A gap in job applications often refers to a period of time that appears to be unaccounted for. This can be due to a number of reasons, such as taking a longer time to graduate compared to other students or taking a gap year to travel. Recruiters will usually want applicants to explain unaccounted periods on their resumes or applications as part of their evaluation process. It’s then up to you to take the initiative to explain the reason behind the gap period.

Ultimately, the goal is to ensure your explanations are delivered in a positive light to maintain a good impression of yourself. Here are some examples of how you can phrase your explanations for common situations that may have caused a gap on your job application or resume.


Situation #1: Physical or mental illness

Taking time off to fight off illness can be considered mitigating circumstances and could be taken into account when employers are reviewing your application.

Take the first step to address it briefly in your cover letter or in the “additional information” section in your job application form.

How to Deal with Gaps in Graduate Resumes and Applications_1 Physical or mental illness


Situation #2: University or college holidays and vacations

Recruiters generally won’t question you about your lack of employment history, such as internships, during semester breaks or school holidays, as they don’t see these as gaps.

However, no work experience at all will make you less attractive as a job candidate – especially if you’re competing with other candidates who have completed internships or can boast of part-time work experience!

How to Deal with Gaps in Graduate Resumes and Applications_2 University or college holidays


Situation #3: Being unemployed for a period of time after graduation 

If you’re worried about not being able to secure a job immediately after leaving school, consider taking a gap year to travel or courses to learn new skill sets before shouldering long-term commitments. While employers would definitely be curious about what you were up to during the time that you’re unemployed, they won’t actually penalise you for taking your time to start your career.

But this also doesn’t mean that they’d be impressed if you’d spent all those months binge-watching shows on Netflix after graduation or being a couch potato! If that’s what actually happened, leave that information out.

How to Deal with Gaps in Graduate Resumes and Applications_3 Being unemployed


Other tips

Whether or not you have a strong justification for the gap in your resume, never make up a falsehood to cover one. You don’t necessarily have to go into detail with your explanation, but not addressing your gaps or lying about them will only add to your recruiters’ uncertainty about hiring you.

If you have gaps but can still prove that you are a proactive person, it’s still possible for employers to view you as a worthy candidate. For instance, if you used the time you weren’t employed to pursue an online course, draw attention to it to showing that you didn’t just sit by your laptop, waiting for an offer. This will help you stand out!

How to Deal with Gaps in Graduate Resumes and Applications_4 Other Tips