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I have taken a break from my software development career four years ago. I plan to return to the industry and I am updating my resume and the cover letter accordingly. I am planning to mention in my covering letter that I have taken a break owing to personal obligations.

I have two questions to ask.

  1. Can I mention that the break was owing to personal obligations?
  2. Do I have to mention that it was a four year break?
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    You should ideally say something a bit more specific than "personal obligations" (because that can mean just about anything from just having felt like taking a break to having been in jail). – Dukeling Jan 12 '18 at 11:50
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First, I hope the obligations that motivated your break turned out as well as possible. I once took a break to help my family as my grandparents' health took a turn for the worse and, while the end was sad, to this day I value that time immensely.

You'll need to have a solid, confident answer to, "Why did you take a break?" Are you comfortable talking about the reason for stepping away? If not, that's just fine. What's most important here is that you have confidence that you made the right choice for you, and that you project that confidence. For mine, it was, "I took some time to help my family as my grandparents were passing," but it could just as easily have been, "Some matters in my personal (or family) life needed my full attention for a while. I've settled them now, and I'm ready to focus on my career again." If they follow up wondering why (which they really shouldn't), I might say something like, "It's nothing related to my work life, and really no cause for concern, but I'm not comfortable discussing it."

Practice this answer, out loud, with a friend. Get yourself into a groove where you've said it enough times that you feel good about the sound and rhythm of it. Sounds corny, but helps you avoid feeling awkward and tossing in more details than you want to if they're quiet or seem curious, and it will guaranteed up your confidence in delivering it.

Meanwhile, did you do anything during this time that was related to your professional life? If so, you should consider putting it onto your resume. And again, if not, that's just fine — don't feel like you have to stretch yourself or the truth to make sure there's something on your resume during this time. Volunteering, working on community projects, etc. all might have relevant skills and experience that are worth including. Keep in mind, you're not looking to make the gap disappear via this, just sharing things you've done to continue to hone your skills and stay somewhat current.

Welcome back, and good luck!

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If the reason of the break is because of personal obligations, I would mention it. When questions are asked related to this, you can choose to answer or not.

I think adding it is a better idea than just leaving a gap.

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  1. Can I mention that the break was owing to personal obligations?

You definitely can mention this. As an employer I appreciate when a CV or cover letter explains something that I would just ask about otherwise. In this case, mentioning why you took a break could avoid misinterpretation (you lost motivation, struggled to keep up with the tech, etc).

  1. Do I have to mention that it was a four year break?

You don't have to mention it, but it will be evident from your CV anyway. Mentioning it explicitly helps convey that it's not something that you are trying to hide.

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Mentioning that you were on a break due to personal obligations is not wrong. In fact, saying that will display your honesty. On the other hand, mentioning that you were on a break for 4 years might not work-out in the right way. Mention it if asked. Otherwise, not needed at all.

Source: Personal experience

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4 years of gap is bit more challenging to explain so you should be ready with the proper answer, don't mention just personal obligations over in CV. Here is an example of my friend who took 2 years of gap for travelling the world "'After an enjoyable and very successful 5 years with XYZ I took a carefully planned two year career break travelling throughout ABC." so this is how yo should explain your career break. I hope you will like this answer.Thank You.

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