Your Work From Home Resume: Explaining “Illness Gaps”

work from home jobs


by Chris Durst     Feb. 17, 2020

We recently made a post about explaining Parenting Gaps in your resume and many of you asked us to make another post addressing illness-related gaps. You asked, we listened!

When an illness knocks you out of the workforce – once or repeatedly – it can leave your resume with some glaring holes. So, how do you go about explaining the illness-related gaps without causing prospective employers to think they’ll be at risk of losing you again due to health-related issues?

With Applicant Tracking Systems playing such a big role in pre-screening job applicants, it’s important that you create a resume that doesn’t raise red flags that will cause the “bots” to kick your resume out before it’s ever seen by a human being. In some cases, an extended period of unemployment may be a red flag.

Here are some strategies you may want to employ to round out your resume and explain those Illness Gaps.


1. REMOVE

If the gaps are in the distant past (in the early part of your work history), you might consider removing all work prior to your illness from your resume and just include your work history after your return from your break.

2. REVISE

If the illness was more recent but had you out of work for less than a year, consider changing the way you display all of the work dates on your resume and it may disappear.

For example, if you were out of work due to illness from Apr. 2019 – Jul. 2019, a traditional resume would look like this:

Job Title 2 Jan. 2014 – April 2019

Job Title 1 Feb. 2012 – Dec. 2013

That means you will have a gap from April 2019 through the current date.

To eliminate that gap, try removing the month and presenting it like this:

Job Title 2 2014 – 2019

Job Title 1 2012 – 2013

In this case, if you’re job hunting in 2019, there’s not an obvious gap in your resume. You may be asked for more specifics during an interview but, with the gap gone from your resume, you’re more likely to get your foot in the door.

This method won’t always work, but it’s worth taking a look at.

3. CREATE A ROLE FOR YOUR RESUME

For longer absences, take a hard look at what you did during your time out of the workforce. With certain illnesses, the majority of your time will be spent on getting better. With others, you may not be well enough to work, but still be well enough to be involved in other activities.

If you fall into the latter category, make a list of how you filled your days and how those activities might translate into transferable skills.

    • Did you take any online courses?
    • Write a blog?
    • Freelance?
    • Volunteer?

Once you have a good list, CREATE A ROLE for your resume. For example:

Freelance Writer – Continuous Learner
July 2018 – July 2019

I left my position at XXXXX to engage in the treatment of and full recovery from XXX. As is evidenced throughout my work history and in this resume, I always strive to stay productive. As such, my activities during this period included:

      • Completed two online courses in XXXX.
      • Pitched, researched, and wrote three articles on XXX that were published in XXX.
      • Successfully overcame <your illness>

OR, if your time was spent primarily on overcoming the illness, something like this:

Health Researcher and Manager
July 2018 – July 2019

      • Conducted deep research on <your illness>.
      • Analyzed and compared data regarding treatment options for <your illness> and selected the best option for treatment.
      • Documented outcomes of various regimes and treatments and amended course of action for optimal results
      • Successfully overcame <your illness>

Either option fills the gap in your resume and demonstrates that you spent that time with tangible and useful activities while using and building upon skills that will transfer into the workplace.

Both options also end with a bullet that states you are fully recovered and ready to return to work!

We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Now that you have your resume on track, be sure to check our Newest Jobs & Gigs page. May you be working from home soon!

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