How Do You Handle a Lapse in Employment?

There are a wide variety of reasons for why you might have a lapse of employment on your resume. Job searching can be challenging and finding the right position that works great for the company and yourself can be tricky and requires the right timing. Plus, sometimes people just want to take some time off for themselves, their family, or some other reason.

While I think we can all come up with many reasonable reasons for someone to have a lapse in employment on their resume, this message I saw on LinkedIn broke my heart a little bit:

Yesterday I had a recruiter inform me that she had hard time placing me in front of clients as I had a lapse of employment and she presented employed candidates instead. Which I told her during the interview process that the reasoning for the lapse was due to me having to take a leave to help out my fiance with his stage 3 colon cancer treatment and that I worked hard during my time off as his personal executive assistant, with heavy calendar management for medical appointments, emotional support and assisting him with regional meetings here in Atlanta, that’s not any different that I would and have given to previous employment as an executive assistant, I just wasn’t compensated for my services in a monetary value. I’ve never had a recruiter tell me that I was unmarketable before. This crushed me, to think that my goodwill to help a human being to live isn’t enough… So I took her advice during the interview process and updated my resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect my lapse of employment. I’m hoping that posting this helps people recognize that a lapse isn’t always bad, it doesn’t mean that person isn’t marketable.

I think this person has to be careful to not take one recruiter’s choices and preferences cloud them too much. No doubt this one recruiter doesn’t represent all recruiters. However, there’s no doubt that there are many recruiters like the one described above out there.

Another key learning from the story above is that just because you’ve had a lapse of employment, doesn’t mean you’ve had a lapse in your skills. There are often ways that you can cover any lapse in employment. Maybe you were doing side gigs in between jobs. Maybe you can show how your skills were enhanced while you were caring for children or a sick family member like in this story. If nothing else, one of the commenters suggested that you can put it down as a personal sabbatical so that the person hiring won’t wonder what happened.

How do you handle lapses of employment on your resume? If you’re someone who hires others, will you hire people who have lapses? What can people do to deal with a lapse in employment? We look forward to reading your comments and insights.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • I took care of my Grandmother for 2 years 24 hrs a day until her passing at the age of 90. It has been almost a year and I have only received a few recruiter calls and no interviews. With over 13 years of experience in Healthcare IT, which is supposed to be one of the most open fields, as far as jobs, I am still unemployed and look forward to seeing what others have done to gain employment.

  • You gave up your career to take care of your grandmother. Good for you. I am sure you could not live with yourself if you chose differently. I have 13 years in Healthcare IT myself and can not get a job in the field because I left to work in financial services and government IT for a few years. Healthcare IT is a very closed minded and snobby group that gathers in HIMSS and other user group conferences to network and shuffle around to other hospitals or health care IT companies. I have a much broader perspective of IT than they do. Don’t be unemployed – move on to other areas: education, government, or other non-profited if you’d like, or go to the “dark side” to for-profit companies.

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