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Gap in Employment History
Mar 11, 2004

In a recent response, you suggested responding to a question re: a gap in employment history by stating one was helping to care for a family member--actually the case in my situation. Do you suggest stating this on one's actual resume, and if so, how would you suggest wording this? I have been caring for a family member for about 18 mos., am not on disability, very healthy and would like to get back into full-time work.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Depending on the format of your resume, I would recommend something like this. If you structure your resume to reflect blocks of time in various jobs, then write in the block of time when you haven't been working and enter beside/below it, "Managing a family member's serious illness." This is my recommendation, by the way, even when the family member is yourself.

In the interview, I strongly recommend referring to that block of time in terms of the skills you acquired while doing it. No one who manages a family member's illness does so very well without becoming more organized, more flexible in the face of changing priorities, better at dealing with stubborn get the picture. I speak from experience here: even though the skills are acquired with a price of heartbreak or personal agony, they are still skills, and they enhance what you bring to the workplace. Perhaps the greatest benefit you bring is the perspective of someone who has faced down life and death issues, so the small stuff just cannnot get to you the way it could before. Name one employer who wouldn't be glad for that wisdom in an employee. It's a genuine contribution in our increasingly fractured, issue-of-the-moment-driven workplaces.

I wish you well, and encourage you to reflect on your next employer's good fortune.

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