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I got a BS in applied math & cs in 2020, then got laid off from my IT job due to a pandemic budget cut. After 6 months of not being able to find a job, I decided to try something new and applied to grad programs in English Lit, and, to my surprise, got accepted to my first choice school. Fast-forward to the end of my 1st semester of grad school: the teaching load is brutal, I'm broke, and my physical & mental health have gotten so bad that I decide to take a semester off. A few months after that, I'm dreading going back so much that I drop out for good.

I've been searching for a job where I can use my degree since then, but I've gotten only 1 interview and no offers. I worry that what's grown to be a 2-year gap in my resume is an automatic rejection from most employers, and all I have to show from that time is 1 semester of coursework from a literature degree.

How can I explain (on my resume or in a cover letter) my unfinished humanities grad degree to employers in technical fields?

Edit: other questions addressing unfinished degrees mostly address unfinished undergrad degrees, and I've also seen some that address unfinished graduate degrees in the asker's own field. I wanted to ask about an unfinished grad degree that would seem completely irrelevant to most employers.

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    Has anyone asked you about the gap? If so, what was your response?
    – sf02
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 19:31
  • Does this answer your question? Incomplete Degree - How to phrase this on resume or cover letter?
    – gnat
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 21:03
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    You said you weren't able to find a job for 6 months when you did not have any gap... I don't think the problem of finding a job would have anything to do with that gap now. I think you would be well served by getting advice in this area in general. Asking how to get back to the pre-gap status of not finding a job isn't going to be very productive.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 9:20
  • @nvoigt this is a really interesting point & something I hadn't considered before. I had thought I was a strong applicant post-graduation (top of my class, multiple internships, etc.) but I guess there's never really a way to know why your resume isn't getting picked up. An employment gap just seemed to be the most likely culprit in this current leg of my search.
    – gigagondy
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 0:04

1 Answer 1

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You can always tell the truth on your resume and during the job interviews, which is the best policy.

Tell the companies that your grad program does not fit your career goal as you initially thought. So, after trying for many months, you decided to drop out to pursue something else that fits you better.

About the 2 year gap, you can also tell the companies that you have been looking for jobs during this time, and got no luck yet. Most people understand that it is pretty hard to get hired in the IT field in the last 2 years or during the pandemic.

Overall, I think that the hiring managers will accept this explanation.


BTW, if you are interested in working as a programmer or software engineer, and if you have taken online video courses from websites such as Udemy, etc... to learn new computer languages and technologies such as Python, JavaScript, TypeScript, Java, C#, C++, NodeJS, React, etc..., then you can list those on your resume. That will increase your chance of getting an IT job.

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    While I agree with your answer, this baffles me a bit: "that it is pretty hard to get hired in the IT field in the last 2 years or during the pandemic" - I would rather say it's the complete opposite - can you elaborate on why you came to that conclusion? Maybe hotels, gastronomy and such - but IT..?
    – iLuvLogix
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 10:21
  • @iLuvLogix I'd also love to see some solid evidence for that. I will say that anecdotally, in my own experience and the experience of friends with similar ambitions, 2020 graduates have not had much luck getting hired in any field outside of retail/food service.
    – gigagondy
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 0:07

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