Posted On: October 23, 2020
If you have one work history gap of, say, a year or more, you can explain it with a simple one-line sentence like, “2018-2019 — In recovery from a health emergency.” But what do you do if you had to stop work again and again because of the same challenge? The answer depends on the circumstances.
If, for example, you are a caregiver for a family member, and their requirements mean you occasionally have to take a few months off, list your work experience as normal. But also include a line that explains that during that time you were a full-time caregiver. For example, “2016-2020 — Full-time caregiver for injured family member.” This will tell the employer that any gaps in work history between 2016 and 2020 were likely due to your role as a caregiver.
What about disabilities like multiple sclerosis that cause occasional, unexpected flair-ups leading to your inability to work? As before, you could explain a particularly long-term flair-up with a single line on your resume. For multiple, short-term flair-ups of a few months, don’t worry as much about explaining them. Since the average job search takes about 6 to 8 months, recruiters won’t worry so much about a handful of months between jobs.
Your cover letter is also a perfect opportunity to explain any long-term challenges. If you do decide to disclose on a cover letter, do so from a position of strength. Focus on the work-ready skills dealing with an ongoing issue like caregiving or living with a disability has given you. For example, “In 2015, I was diagnosed with MS. Living with MS has taught me adaptability, patience and perseverance.”
Of course, your disability is never your primary selling point. If you disclose, do it only after carefully laying out all the other reasons why you’re qualified for the job.