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How can I account for 3 yrs of unemployment on my resume as I try to get back in the workforce?

by Mike
(New York)

Hi... I have been unemployed for 3 years now and was wondering whether I need to write something in my resume to explain the gap? I've only had 2 jobs since graduating from college in 2004. Prior to losing my job in 2008, I was working in a highly stressful job in the field of finance on Wall Street.

I have not been working for 3 years partly due to health reasons and partly because I'm afraid of searching for jobs because I don't know how to go about making a career change while explaining such a long gap in work history.

Luckily I have been able to survive on my savings thus far but I can't possibly keep delaying the job search any further. The longer I wait the harder and harder it seems that I'll get back in the work force.

When I got laid off in 2008, I thought I'll take a year off, but 1 year turned into 3 years as I kept telling myself I'll look for a job when I feel better, I had been dealing with depression and other personal issues.

Unfortunately I have lost all confidence in myself at this point but I really want to start searching for work and start sending my resume out. My problem is I don't know how to complete my resume when my work experience ends in 2008.

Do I need to write something to explain the gap? I have really not done much over the past 3 years and have slowly come out of depression to the point where I now feel motivated enough to look for jobs again.

How can I make my resume which currently only has 4 years of finance background and 3 years of unemployment stand out in a positive light?

I no longer want to work in a finance/analytical type of role and want to start a completely new career. How can I get employers to give me a chance, given that I only have 4 years of finance experience and haven't been working since Jan 2008. So where do I begin?

Answer: Mike, sorry to hear you've had such a rough time at such a young age. Hope you are feeling better everyday. Here's the good news... your timing was perfect. Employment gaps these days are almost more the norm than the exception in many job seekers.

It's really not that unusual for people to be out of work for a year or two. Your gap is a bit longer, but still, I doubt it will really raise a lot of issues.

You're not under obligation to explain your mental health struggles. You can simply say that you quit your previous job for health reasons, but are now fully recovered and your health will not interfere with future jobs. The gap can be further explained as just that you have decided to switch careers as finance was not the right fit for you and you haven't yet been able to find the right job.

All this should be explained in the cover letter (briefly) and in any interviews, not on the resume.

Believe in yourself and think about what your strengths and talents ARE, not where you have failed or struggled in the past. Figure out what transferable skills you can bring from your past job into a new career, things like attention to detail, vision and planning, communication skills, ability to work independently and so forth... whatever might apply to your situation.

To your success... Kathi

Comments for How can I account for 3 yrs of unemployment on my resume as I try to get back in the workforce?

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Jul 06, 2015
How can I account for 3 yrs of unemployment on my resume as I try to get back in the workforce? NEW
by: Anonymous

media jobs London - Account executive, Medical writer jobs. Media Contacts are specialist recruiters for the Media Industry, recruiting Media Publishers

Jun 19, 2015
How can I account for 3 yrs of unemployment on my resume as I try to get back in the workforce? NEW
by: Anonymous

Marketing Recruitment London - Charter Selection is a leading recruitment agency made up of highly experienced industry professionals with a vast amount of experience in their specialist fields. - public finance jobs

Jun 13, 2015
unemployment NEW
by: Parks

My friend too was in the same situation as you are now till the end of this May. Recently he joined in all new marketing field taking the advice from blog experts in building up confidence in people like you. Feel free to meet them soon.

Jun 08, 2015
employment NEW
by: Anonymous

pharma jobs UK - One of the UK’s top specialist clinical recruitment consultancies, working with the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, in the UK and Europe. - scientific jobs

Feb 19, 2015
Explanation NEW
by: Mick

Yes it is really important to mention the reason of unemployment in the resume. Otherwise the employer will ask the same and custom car seat covers it will be hard to explain it. If you have done any job related course it can be also mentioned.

Jun 21, 2011
3 Years Gap in Employment
by: Basushree

I totally agree with the view that a gap in employment does NOT automatically translate into
a person's incompetence in any way. In the end, we are all human beings with our own unique factors in life that influence our career decisions at some time or the other. But the world doesnt come to an end. A good worker can always retain the belief in himself/herself, pick up the pieces and go for yet another interview with head held high. Always keep in mind-companies also work under constraints-a rejection could probably also mean cutting costs for the company,internal policies etc- certainly nothing to do with your inherent qualities or professional capabilities.

All the best to all those looking for jobs!


Apr 10, 2011
Believe in Yourself
by: Kathi, Site Owner

Laurie... Glad to help. I think the main thing is to believe in yourself and your talents/skills. If you are passionate in your belief in yourself, you can't fail to influence recruiters/employers.

But never hesitate to keep learning and enhancing the talents you already possess. Network in every way you can to learn about job openings and to get opportunities to apply.

Much success in your new life,

Mar 16, 2011
I can relate to this! Thank You!
by: Laurie Jenkins

I am 49 years old and worked in the corporate world until 2003 when I got remarried and worked with my husband in his auto transport business until our relationship ended in 2006. I was in a very abusive relationship (protective order and all that good stuff) and before "him", I was a very confident and self-assured woman.

I was so insecure and felt lost when I had to get back into the workforce so I got my first job at Starbucks, then Walmart, then Home Depot making almost half of what I made at my last job I kept for 8 1/2 years as a work at home claims adjuster for a health insurance company.

I have a 3 year gap and a couple of minimum wage jobs over 2 years, then another 2 year gap where I was babysitting my 2 grandsons and doing odd jobs to make ends meet. I want to get a good job making at least $1500/mo. because I am worth it. But I have had a horrific experience and more failure than I have ever had my entire life this time around.

Any suggestions? This article did help me see that I am not the only one that has had unexpected downfalls in their journey of life. Who knows, maybe someone will read my very long comment and relate to both of us and so on, and so on, and so on.

Thanks for putting a little light at the end of my tunnel. I'm smiling :)

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