Gaps on a resume -- is this a bad thing?

consulting recruiting
New answer on Dec 01, 2023
9 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Nov 13, 2023

Hi everyone, 

I wanted to ask what the current consensus is on large gaps on somebody's resume: for example, let's say you left your previous position several months ago (personal reasons, laid off, etc) and now you're trying to get back into the workforce.

Do recruiters view gaps as red flag? I've heard they do, I just don't really understand why. 

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Benjamin
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replied on Nov 26, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

This is a common question, especially in very competitive economies. 

In my perspective, there are 2 scenarios:

  1. You have already been invited to the interview
    • In this scenario, the firm already thinks you potentially have what it takes
    • I wouldn't worry too much about framing the gap, just be authentic but also insightful in your key messages here
  2. You are going to apply and have not yet secured the interview
    • In this scenario, if the gap is hindering the strength of your CV, then you need to start strengthening the CV
    • If however it was a historical gap and your CV is still very strong with other actual work experiences, then again nothing to worry about

Generally the gap is not a concern as long as you can convince the recruiters that you have what it takes. All the best!

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ALEXANDRE
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replied on Dec 01, 2023
FREE INTRO I exMcKinsey EM I exKearney consultant I High Success Rate I Official Coach for HEC (160 coachees in 2022/23)

Hi,

Gaps on a resume -- is this a bad thing?

It's a quite usual question. It depends on what you did during this gap. In any case you need to value it and make it shine.

Cheers,

Alexandre

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Raj
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replied on Nov 28, 2023
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To mitigate any potential concerns, it's important to proactively address the resume gap in your application materials and during interviews. Be transparent about the reasons for the gap, whether it was due to personal reasons, a layoff, or other circumstances. Highlight any relevant activities or experiences you pursued during the gap period, such as volunteering, freelance work, or professional development.

Additionally, emphasize your eagerness to re-enter the workforce and your commitment to staying up-to-date with industry trends and skills. Demonstrating a proactive approach to bridging the gap and showcasing your continued passion for your field can help alleviate any concerns recruiters may have.

Remember, recruiters are looking for candidates who can bring value to their organizations. By addressing the resume gap head-on and showcasing your relevant skills and experiences, you can position yourself as a strong candidate despite the gap.

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Francesco
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replied on Nov 14, 2023
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Hi there,

Q: Do recruiters view gaps as a red flag? I've heard they do, I just don't really understand why.

Whether a gap might be an issue or not depends on (i) the length, (ii) when it happened, (iii) why it happened and (iv) what you did during that time.

Regardless, you cannot change the gap, so I would rather concentrate on how you can improve your chances by working on your CV, cover and referrals. 

You can find some tips for that below:

▶ How to Get a Consulting Interview Invitation

Good luck!

Francesco

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Cristian
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replied on Nov 14, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi!

99% of people who are concerned about CV gaps are candidates, not recruiters. 

What you always need is a good explanation for the CV gap. Ideally, you should explain how it was either necessary or a growth experience (e.g., pursuing a passion). 

But as long as you can provide a good explanation nobody is going to hold that against you. If anything, it shows that you are open. 

Good luck!
Cristian

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Practicing for interviews? Check out my latest case based on a first-round MBB interview >>> CodeWave  

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Udayan
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replied on Nov 13, 2023
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

Gaps on a resume can be an issue sometimes for the following reasons

  1. Gaps can be an indication of poor performance - most people do not choose to take a gap when they are doing very well in a role, but rather when things are not going great and they need to reset
  2. Gaps can mean that your skillset is not perceived as desirable in the current job market or maybe is not as polished as it needs to be when interviewing
  3. Gaps can also mean that you are someone that prioritizes other things over their career

All of the above are just examples of things that a career gap can convey, not the reality behind the gap. The best thing to do is to write a cover letter or short paragraph explaining the gap when applying to make it clear that this was voluntary and driven by circumstances outside your control. Most hiring managers are open to this view.

Best,

Udayan

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Ian
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replied on Nov 14, 2023
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Hi there,

The honest answer is yes, they have a impact (negative one).

The other honest answer is, like anything, your application is viewed holistically…enough positive factors and then gap doesn't matter.

Having a gap does not mean no one will interview you. But, it does indicate things like having being fired, not being able to find work, etc. If you have 100 applications, all equal, and one had a gap, you'd eliminate it right?

So, what can you do?

Be better in the other areas.

  1. Get the best resume possible (formatting, wording, layout etc.). Hire a coach to help
  2. “Cover” the gap. There's ways to hide it or minimize it
  3. Network effectively (there's right and wrong ways to do this)
  4. Have a great cover letter
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Nikita
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replied on Nov 14, 2023
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Hi,

It really depends on the interviewer's perception and past experiences.

IMO it's not a red flag given you have a sound explanation for the gap. For example: studying, attending to family matters, pursuing your own thing, volunteering etc.

Regards,
Nick

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Alberto
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replied on Nov 19, 2023
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

Hi there,

It shouldn't be a problem as long as you know how to explain it (personal reasons are also valid here).

Best,

Alberto

Check out my latest case based on a real MBB interview: Sierra Springs

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Benjamin gave the best answer

Benjamin

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