How to Best Clarify a Gap Year in Your Resume

Many job seekers in architecture and interior design have gap years in their resumes. For example, maybe you spent a year traveling and studying international architecture. While taking a year off can lead to life-affirming experiences, they can also damage your resume if left unexplained. Here are tips to tips clarify a gap year in your resume and turn it into an advantage.

Rethink How You Organize Your Resume

Not all resumes have to be a chronological list of your past jobs. Structuring your resume chronologically will draw attention to the gap year. Instead, you can categorize your resumes by skills and experience. This is called a functional resume. Alternatively, you can list your past jobs chronologically, and have a separate category for “experience” that addresses what you learned and the skills you developed during your gap year.

Be Transparent But Positive

Depending on the nature of your gap year, you might not want to emphasize it, but you don’t want to hide it, either. Trust is important. The last thing you want is for the hiring manager to think you have something to hide. Be open about the year you took off but focus on the positives. You don’t want a prospective employer to think you spent the year glued to a TV screen. Highlight the activities you did that benefited your professional growth such as travel, volunteer work, research, skill development, and freelance work.

Be Consistent

If you accomplished a lot during your gap year, don’t be shy about it. The great thing about a functional resume is that you can discuss the experiences you had during your gap year throughout your resume without confusing the hiring manager. A great strategy is to reference the gap year in your executive summary, then highlight what you learned in your year off periodically in each section of your resume.

Don’t Think of Your Gap Year as a Weakness

We have been trained by society to think not having a job is a failure. If you view your gap year as a weakness, it will affect how you talk about it in your resume. Employers look at how you communicate when they read your resume. You don’t want to sound like you lack confidence in your experience.

No matter why you took a year off—whether it was for travel or health—don’t let it bog down your resume. You don’t go a whole year without learning and growing as a person. So, think about what skills you learned during your gap year and how your experiences made you a better person and a more valuable employee.


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