I'm having some troubles finding work. I'm a good, hard-working and honest worker who has a ton of experience in several areas. I won't list them, but I suspect that my issues with finding work are related to a 10 year break I took. From the moment I left school up until 2005, I had been through a couple jobs. I fell ill in 2005 and it has taken quite a while to get back on track.

But I am finally at a point where I am able to work and no matter where I go or what type of jobs I apply for, I rarely even get an automated response. I try to apply in person, but all I get is is attitude and "apply on our website". So, these days it seems that applying online is the preferred means and your main option.

I'm not going to lie on my resume and fill that 10 year break with fake positions or just BS, but I haven't provided an explanation for that gap either (unless they ask - which they don't, because they never respond).

So I'm sitting here, yet again, re-working my resume, thinking that maybe I should put something in there so as to address any questions they may have about the gap between 2005 and 2015.

Should I do that? Would it even matter?

I don't really think it's any of their business, however it would raise questions if I were reading over it as an employer and it would be difficult to not take it into account when hiring.

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    One suggestion from here is to mention a gap in your CV or cover letter. See here for context - workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/14055/…
    – Brandin
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 7:00
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    I wrote an answer here about a related situation, someone with a 4 year gap. I think you might find that list of recommendations quite useful.
    – enderland
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:13
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 2:02
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    Comments deleted. Take discussions to the chat room. Comments are to improve the post; chat is for discussions and problem-solving. Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 20:35
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    SE13013 if there is further information you think people will need to answer, you can edit your question to add it. Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 20:37

4 Answers 4


Personally, if I saw a CV with an unexplained ten year gap, it would certainly be raising a flag for me. I'd be more likely to move forwards with it if it said something like "Unemployed due to long term illness". As Brandin has said in a comment, then mention it in a cover letter or similar - "I've been unemployed since 2005 due to a long term illness, but I'm now in a state where my illness no longer affects my ability to work."

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    People who often get sick, or were sick for a long time, scare employers. It is very reasonable to think the person might get sick again, possibly for a long period again. It'll only cost them a lot of money, aside from the countless headaches. Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 7:38
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    "my illness no longer ..." implies the illness is still there, and they'd likely be cautious of you because of the risk of it getting worse again. I would strongly suggest avoid that phrasing and perhaps going with what @Lilienthal said, or something else. Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 17:23
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    Folks - comments should not be used as a discussion forum. Unless it's relevant to this answer, please take it to chat. Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 20:59

I suggest you go through a recruiter. People either love or hate recruiters, but I have good experience with recruiters, who I find are able to sell my skills better than I can and explain the areas where I need explaining better than I can. Also, recruiters usually have direct relationship with the hiring managers, and it would help if you just let them explain for you before your resume is even shown.

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    Do recruiters just go and find great jobs for some random nobody they don't know, who isn't in demand (ie. not a coding rock star or industry expert)?
    – Superbest
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 4:32
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    @Superbest - that is literally their job. What else are they going to do?
    – Davor
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 7:42
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    @Davor - They are going to invest their time in a prospect more likely to lead to a commission.
    – psr
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 18:04
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    @Davor I always assumed that recruiters only care about those rare people that every company is looking to hire and can't find enough of. In a lot of areas with a lot of job seekers there doesn't seem to be any point in a company paying recruiters, when they can just put an ad in the paper or online and get hundreds of applications (and dozens of good ones).
    – Superbest
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 20:16
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    @Superbest: In those cases, you employ recruiters to filter the resumes for you. "Get me the 10 best resumes, and check their references". In those settings, recruiters are essentially outsourced HR. This makes a lot of sense if your company is hiring less than one employee per month.
    – MSalters
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 9:52

I agree with the answer suggesting explaining the gap in the cover letter or similar.

In parallel with that, if possible, start some form of regular outside-the-home activity, such as volunteer work or education. The main objective should be that it involve the same demand to get up each morning, go to a specific location, and work there for several hours as a regular job would.

The volunteer work does not need to be related to target jobs other than in demonstrating reliability. It could be something very basic, such as doing data entry for a charity.

Once you establish a track record of regular attendance, change the cover letter to not only explain the gap, but add "Since [date] I have volunteered for X hours each weekday at ....". Aim to get someone associated with the activity to act as a reference, with the understanding that, if asked, they should emphasize your attendance record.

This should help with a possible concern that you are out of the habit of having going to work.

Unfortunately, this may not be feasible. It depends on whether you can afford the travel cost to get to a suitable location, without having a job.

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    +1 for the proposal of volunteer work, which helps prove reliability and freshen up your skills and build a contact network. You might even get in touch with people who need work done, and judge you by your (observed) performance more than by your CV. Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:25
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    Voluntary work helped me get out of a smaller but slightly similar rut some years back (in my case, it was a bad combination of extended travelling then coming home right at the start of a recession... voluntary work turned a gap into something positive, relevant and interesting) Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 14:54

What about exploring options beyond working for someone else; for example starting your own business? The Internet presents a whole host of opportunities, but make sure it is something that you enjoy, believe in and can stick at.

Starting your own business is not for everyone, but I'd recommend starting off by reading the book Personal MBA to figure out if this is something for you. Skip the first chapter though, which simply outlines why you don't need to go to business school to start a successful business.

  • I like this idea. It's always been in the back of my mind.
    – SE13013
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 19:23

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