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I have a first class Computer Science degree. I worked at a prestigious fin-tech company for 6 months then decided to quit because my mental health was in a very bad state.

Now after about a year gap, I am starting to think about applying to dev jobs again.

Should I mention my job on my CV, or omit it? How should I reply if the interviewer asks questions about my gap?


Update from myself,

I have now been working for almost 2 years. My current job is a lot more relaxed than my previous job. The break ended up being prolonged due to covid. When interviewing the gap never even came up.

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  • Can't you just say you went travelling or something?
    – solarflare
    Mar 3, 2019 at 23:41
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    @solarflare If he actually did some travelling during the year off, that's probably not a bad idea. However, I'd strongly advise against putting anything that's a flat out lie on your resume. Medical confidentiality already limits the details that need to be given, so there's no need for a cover story. Mar 4, 2019 at 3:19
  • @MatthewBarber if you leave it blank people will assume the worst - that he was in prison or was battling drug addiction etc. Just keep it simple.
    – solarflare
    Mar 4, 2019 at 3:25
  • @solarflare I'm not saying to leave it blank; just don't make up things you didn't do to fill it. Rather, put down the most positive description of what you actually did during that period that can be backed up. Recovering your health can be a full time job, after all. Mar 4, 2019 at 4:45
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    Possible duplicate of How to explain gap in employment history
    – Jonast92
    Mar 4, 2019 at 17:12

4 Answers 4

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You need a good explanation for the gap, but “I was seriously ill” is a good explanation.

As an interviewer I would not ask for details if someone told me that, partly because it’s none of my business and partly because it’s getting close to some legally-best-avoided topics. If an interviewer does ask (which is unlikely), you can politely decline by saying something like “I’d prefer not to go into detail about my illness; I’m fully recovered now” (assuming that’s true).

I recommend that you aren’t completely open about what kind of illness it was, because unfortunately there is still a stigma against mental illness among many people, and because your medical history is none of their business.

Don’t be tempted to fake the dates in your resume to avoid the issue; I would totally hire someone who was off work for 6 months because they were ill, but there is no way I would hire someone who lied to me on their CV.

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    Yeah, it shouldn't matter to any future employer whether you had mental health issues or, say, cancer. So long as you're ready to return to work, that's all they need to know. Mar 3, 2019 at 22:12
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    A good way to phrase this is to simply say: "I was dealing with a health situation which has since been resolved.". That last part is important and you should volunteer it up front because any good interviewer will follow-up with "Do you expect you'll need accommodation for that in the future?". Bad interviewers will ask for details or simply discriminate against the candidate on medical reasons. (Both are illegal but that doesn't help applicants much.)
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 4, 2019 at 9:45
  • I would be prepared to answer some questions. As an interviewer my first thoughts would be along the lines of "Is this a potentially reoccurring health concern?" and "Can we do anything to help?" Not an issue if OP is fully recovered but worth having answers prepared - even if they are "It won't impact my work" (though consider how true that is, some people genuinely want to help). Jul 19, 2023 at 11:57
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I've done this myself and here is how it worked out for me. Though, I was much further in my career than you appear to be from your question. I was out of work for around 6 months when I decided to start again.

First things first. I made sure my knowledge was still up to snuff and I was going to be solid in the interviews. I wrote some code. I reviewed algorithms. I did all the things to make sure I was aware of what was going on in my domain. Being solid on the things expected of you are going to be worth it's weight when it comes to any questions about what you were doing with that time off. In that it isn't as big of an issue if you nail the interview.

As to why I was out I didn't get into the why. My statement was I just had needed some personal time away from work to do the things I needed/wanted to do. It's not years and I still knew my stuff. My work history already has some gaps in general due to time between contracts and some sabbaticals so I had gaps to explain regardless of my medical leave. Legally, at least in my country, intruding on this would likely violate the law if you mention it was medical as would denying you a role for previous medical leave.

For me, I wasn't especially worried about the time apart from work. My previous employers and what I say in an interview sells me. Make sure you can sell your worth too.

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Just mentioning "medical reasons" should be enough.

If you really want to avoid it, the simplest solution is to leave out the exact date of employment (you probably don't know it anyway).

So instead of writing:

01/01/2015-12/31/2016 PayExample ltd.

Just state: 2015-2016 PayExample ltd.

Or if it's just 6 months within a year, without the start-end time: 2017 ExamplePal ltd.

Also, if someone asks, "I wanted to rest a bit/go on a vacation between jobs" is a good reason not to chase employment, especially if you earned well before and had money. After all, most people in IT don't live paycheck to paycheck. Having hobbies or pet projects is also common in this field, if you have one, you can explain it by that. Learning something related (electronics/data science) is common as well, so if you know something you can fill the gap. Noone cares if you learned it in those months or not.

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    Not sure why you were downvoted for this but it is a very reasonable answer. I have done the same thing to add cover for a gap in employment. It is both an honest answer and one that hides the gap.
    – rhoonah
    Jul 20, 2023 at 1:27
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Your question does not clarify one detail, so I will split the answer.

The CV shall always reflect the work experience correctly. There is no reason to hide anything. For better or for worse, that is what happened and can be verified. If anything bad happened, present it in a more favorable light.

You shall go into the details of the employment break ONLY IF ASKED. You do not need to complicate your life without good reason.


Mental health = tired, unable to focus

If asked, you can safely be open and explain that the work was intense and you needed some time to put yourself together.

I happened to me also, but I had a break of only 3 months.


Mental health = Being Peter Pan, riding pink flying dragons fighting the battle of Waterloo

If asked about the break in employment, just mention health problems. If they try to get more details, present the situation casually - no stress, no importance. If he problems were not big, you can even play the card of "effects of the intense work done at the previous job" - and you brought yourself in the ""tired" mental health situation.

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    "you can safely be open and explain that the work was intense and you needed some time to put yourself together." this is none of the recruiter's business. "If they try to get more details, present the situation casually" just no.
    – Jonast92
    Mar 4, 2019 at 17:10
  • Agreed. I wouldn't want to work anywhere that was that into my personal life in the first place.
    – Rig
    Jul 18, 2023 at 22:47
  • @Jonast92: from my own experience I know that "just no" with no explanation, with no attempt to be forthcoming is a discussion ender. Politics and verbiage are often more useful in life than "rights". Combined with a difficult job market, the picture becomes even more clear.
    – virolino
    Jul 19, 2023 at 11:23
  • @Rig: if you really need to choose between rights and job on a difficult job market, what is your choice? Living under a bridge? I kind of doubt.
    – virolino
    Jul 19, 2023 at 11:25
  • I always choose rights. Because I would rather have less money than be morally compromised.
    – Rig
    Sep 6, 2023 at 19:26

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