Gaps in Employment: Don’t Feel the Need to Apologize

By Lynn Berger '84TC, '90TC of the Columbia Career Coaches Network 

So you have some time off in between jobs -- it happens to everyone. Some people hide it better than others. Some people embrace the time as an opportunity. And some people feel the pressure. As a career counselor and career coach who has worked with individuals seeking career and job search advice, I am here to tell you that there is no need to feel sorry.

For anyone with a gap in their work history, writing a resume or cover letter when you are reentering the workforce can be a challenging task. An unfilled interval of time on a resume may concern some potential employers who may feel the applicant’s skills are either rusty or obsolete. How can you combat this issue? 

Education and Training

Make certain you convey a familiarity with the newest technology through training or in-person or online classes. Most applicants believe they can achieve this with increased training and practice.


What if you have not worked in your field in order to tend to matters involving children, parents, or spouses? Whatever has kept you away from work can be seen as helpful and beneficial if it is presented effectively. Highlight your accomplishments during your time away. For example, people who have been kept busy by family situations should highlight their organizational or time management skills. Some discuss other projects in their persona lives in meaningful and relevant ways. For example, if you have participated in fundraising or community events, they are worth mentioning on your resume.

Networking and Keeping Up-To-Date

With increased use of technology, it is relatively easy for those who have been out of the workforce for any sustained period of time to reacquaint themselves with their former colleagues or with their peers elsewhere in their field. Perhaps there is a lecture or luncheon that you can attend.

Positive Attitude

No matter what has kept you away from your profession it is always suggested that you keep a positive attitude when trying to stage a return to your work. Therefore you should not apologize for these gaps of time but focus upon the "lessons learned" while out on leave.


Lynn Berger '84, '90TC is a career counselor and coach, specializing in helping people make the most of their lives and feel fulfilled. Berger received her Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology and her Master of Education in Counseling Psychology from Columbia. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Master Career Counselor, and Professional Certified Coach. Berger has appeared as a guest expert on radio and TV shows nationwide and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Newsday, The Huffington Post,, and She authored The Savvy Part-Time Professional - How To Land, Create Or Negotiate The Part-Time Job Of Your Dreams.

View the complete list of Columbia Career Coaches Network members.

You Might Also Like:

By Lynn Berger '84TC, '90TC of the Columbia Career Coaches Network As we progress in our careers and lives, we begin to truly understand what motivates us and how we can make the best choices. For...

By Caroline Ceniza-Levine '93BC of the Columbia Career Coaches NetworkThis article originally appeared on My latest Forbes post covers how to use the summer to keep your job search going, but you can also use the summer...

By Rosemary Bova '71SW of the Columbia Career Coaches Network Disengagement has become a crisis in the American workforce—from top managers to hourly employees. Its impact is felt from personal to global levels. I offer...