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From a discussion I had with someone, we were wondering whether cases of force majeur (exceptional circumstances) should be mentioned in a CV/Resume.

For example, imagine a start-up entrepreneur willing to perform freelance missions to support revenues, until final product can be monetized.

Unfortunately, exceptional personal/family circumstances forces him to take care of a sick parent for about two years. He/she has to put his project on hold and take care of the situation. This is a big gap in his working experience and recruiter will find this suspicious.

Should he mentions this in his cv/resume or should he wait until the interview?

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I wouldn't include this information on a CV or a resume. Both a CV and a resume are designed to provide an overview of your knowledge and skills by highlighting your education, experiences, and significant professional contributions. Explaining a gap on a resume or CV is just added content that doesn't address your knowledge, skills, and ability to perform the work for which you are applying. I would even generalize this to say that there's no need to include any information about why you left a position on a CV or resume. Focus on what you did when you held that position.

A significant gap is something that will be noticed by recruiters and hiring managers, but it's something that will be discussed on a job application form or in an interview. On job application forms, I typically see fields to explain why you left the position. Interviewers might also bring the gap up and ask questions, if they feel it's relevant to making a hiring decision. Either of these would be an appropriate venue for discussing the circumstances for you leaving your position for an extended period of time.

  • Unfortunately, not all jobs have an formal application "form" to explain employment gaps, and I wonder if the gap would be enough to kill any potential for an interview where there would be a chance to explain such a gap in detail. I guess on a cover letter there could be a statement about being "eager to re-enter the industry", but I'm not sure if that's common in such cases or if it would work... – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jul 16 '12 at 15:44
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    @FrustratedWithFormsDesigner If there's no application form to fill out (which I would find unusual, since every job I've had requires one), it should come out in an interview. And if an unemployment gap is enough to prevent an interview, that strikes me as a company I don't want to work for... – Thomas Owens Jul 16 '12 at 16:22
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It shouldn't be on a resume. However you should mention it pretty early on with the first people you talk to when given the opportunity to review your career synopsis, which is a fairly standard part of most interviews.

Say what you learned from the experience and how it changed you (in one or two sentences) and then move on to other stuff. Steer it away to other subjects to avoid prolonged discussion but never be evasive if asked so be ready with more details.

You never know why you're being asked and it could even be because the interviewer has a sick parent and are wondering what to do themselves, so be open minded.

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