How to Address Gaps in Work History and Other Confusing Chronologies

In the AOL Jobs Resume Rescue series we help readers tackle their toughest resume issues. The resumes selected are representative of some of the mistakes I see job seekers make when writing a resume. Here are some suggestions for improving the quality of your resume.

Resume No. 1

Gap in work history. This applicant left the work force for several years to be a stay-at-home mom. But because this is not referenced on the resume, the hiring manager is forced to draw his own conclusion about the work gap. It's better to be transparent and actually explain right on the resume what you were doing during the gap in your chronological work history.


Office Assistant XYZ Inc. 2009-2010

  • Performed administrative duties including answering phones, processing mail and receipt of packages.
  • Monitored and maintained office supplies and managed numerous vendors. Completed administrative tasks to support several teams. Maintained confidentiality of all sensitive and proprietary information.

Contract Administrator ABC Corp 1997-2003

  • Responsible for project management for certification and on-time receipt of passenger seats for wide-body aircraft. Primary and single point of contact for seat suppliers. Handled program reports and documents as per FAA and company regulations.
  • Responsible for Purchase orders and planning and conducting onsite and offsite meetings. Maintained confidentiality according to program guidelines.
  • Served as program contact person for suppliers, airline customers and Boeing engineering teams.
  • Clarified and resolved issues including schedule delays, part shortages and certification issues. Responsible overall for seat suppliers' performance on seat programs. Recognized for excellent performance by airline customers and was specifically requested for their future seat programs.

Resume No. 2

No reference to where experience occurred. The writer of this resume lists many of the work tasks she performed in her various jobs. But there is no reference to which skills she used in each positions. Hiring managers won't take the time to guess and they may instead just move on to the next applicant.


  • HR Support in administration, employee relations, recruitment and projects.
  • Set up interviews for applicants, with hiring managers.
  • Helped with writing and maintaining job descriptions.
  • Prepared new hire packets. Went over benefits with new hire and introduced them to company policies.
  • Took care of I-9's and E-verify.
  • Helped employees with benefits and questions they needed answered.
  • Coordinated Benefits enrollment and followed through to be sure that all commitments of time lines were met.
  • Contacted benefit providers with enrollee's. Worked with Principal, VSP, Kaiser, Blue Cross, Conexis.
  • Helped with transition to TriNet when company benefits were outsourced.
  • Conducted exit Interviews.
  • Kept spreadsheets of applicants for EEO and AAP compliance. Data Entry.
  • Prepared weekly time cards distributed to employees. Distributed faxes to appropriate person.
  • Kept track of people that would not be in.
  • Approved meetings that were scheduled in meeting rooms.
  • Answered company phone and put calls through to the appropriate person.
  • Distributed mail throughout the company.
  • Prepared and typed up forms and manuals for Managers that needed them.
  • Kept Employee files updated and put together.
  • Helped plan company activities.

Employment History:

HR Administration Clerk EEE Incorporated 2006-2009
Planner ABC Incorporated 1998-2006 Planner SAO Corp 1994-1997

Resume No. 3

Too many bullets. When you list more than five or six bullets in a row on a resume, the content begins to look like one big paragraph with polka dots rather than defined accomplishments. Break up the text by grouping long lists into themes based on competency. For example, this applicant could have separate category headings for written communications, bookkeeping, and office administration.

Chief Operating Officer

  • Manage and maintain executives' schedules.
  • Prepare invoices, reports, memos, letters, financial statements and other documents, using word processing, spreadsheet, or presentation software.
  • Read and analyze incoming memos, proposal submission documents, and reports, to determine their significance and plan their appropriate distribution.
  • Prepare responses to correspondence containing routine inquiries.
  • Perform general office duties such as ordering supplies, maintaining records management systems, and performing basic bookkeeping work.
  • Prepare agendas and make arrangements for committee, board, and other meetings.
  • Make travel arrangements for executives.
  • Conduct research, compile data, and prepare papers for consideration and presentation by executives, committees, and boards of directors.
  • Coordinate and direct office services, such as records and budget preparation, personnel, and housekeeping, in order to aid executives.
  • Meet with individuals, special interest groups, etc.
  • Set up and oversee administrative policies and procedures for offices or organizations.
  • Supervise and train other clerical staff.
  • Review operating practices and procedures to determine whether improvements can be made in areas such as workflow, reporting procedures, or expenditures.
  • Interpret administrative and operating policies and procedures for new hire orientation.

YoUr Turn! Have a resume that needs rescued? Submit it to AOL Jobs Resume Rescue for a free review.

resume submission

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

are you defending the practices and questions that employers use to determine future employees?if so dont you think that employers are spending to much time second guessing what that person MIGHT be like as an employee. if i had to hire some one i would not ask personal questions that do not pertian to the job and i would not ask questions that simply do not have anything to do with the job, like what did you do with your time off. the key word here is YOUR time. meaning personal and private. employers want to know everything they can about you these days. doesnt matter if the info pertians to the job or not. thats bull shit and an invasion of privacy and un-constitutional. and if that big word offends you then your not read up on your personal rights and why they are SO important to you and everyone else.FREEDOM,RIGHT TO HAPPINESS.LIBERTY, RIGHT TO CHOOSE are these rights important to you? if they are realize all your rights are inter woven with eachother and when you hack away at a few , soon , the others are to follow. its the domino affect, give em an inch and they will take a mile.

December 05 2010 at 7:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

why should i have to explain any work gap to anybody. its none of thier damn business what i did with my free time. employers want DNA next! where do we draw the line. personal time is jus that and should be reguarded as just that.none of your damn business. are you writting a book? maybe you would like to sniff my butt too. maybe a blood sample? all just to get a job.screww employers my personal history is not up for judgment or review and yes i am self employed . i got tired of the crap and pre-judgments of ass holes who arent even capable of a rational thought.why should i have to tell my life story when all they should be cocerned with is my attendance , attitude and reliability, and honesty. would they like my first born too!!! go srcew your self corporate america, you and obama admin. will be the downfall of the U.S..

December 05 2010 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to robert's comment

While I agree with many of your comments, I have one additional thing to say. Remember, no matter how angry or upset you get regarding the questions, etc., that an interviewer may ask or that appear on an application, it is their game and their rules. With so "few" jobs vs. applicants looking for jobs, the interviewer can use almost any reason to drop your application into the round file. IF we want to find that job we need, then we are going to have to play by their rules and adjust to their games. Whether it is right or not, it all comes down to the supply and demand. The demand for jobs may be high but the supply of jobs is low in comparison so we have to work to meet their needs, regardless of how their rules and question may anger us inside. We still have to smile, give them a firm handshake, and be as upbeat as possible so we can get that job we need!! Just my two cents worth!

December 08 2010 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Unfortunately, not including dates of graduation won't help. Once you list your past experience and employers, the recruiters will figure it out. If you are over age 45, then your resume gets tossed. I agree that there have been too many "how to" articles posted on this site regarding resumes, job hunting, and interview skills. Much of the information is common sense or just one person's opinion. Bottom line is, the person who has a friend or relative already working for the company will most likely get the job. Those who are older or have less than perfect credit will not get hired.

December 05 2010 at 6:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What motivates recruiters? The same things that motivate you. One recruiter with a few job openings to fill and hundreds of resumes, discarded all the resumes of applicants who left out middle initials in their names. The theory is that middle initials imply stability, family membership, having been named after a family member. Recruiters, in my experience, will send applicants to managers only when recruiters believe there is a possibility that the manager will call later to say, "You sent me exactly the kind of person I want." Keep these things in mind when writing resumes.

December 05 2010 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to LOUIS SANDBERG's comment

Chuck, I completely agree with you. If an employer is interested, he will inquire about the job gaps. What if there was a personal hardship, like an extensive hospital stay? Is that supposed to be on the resume?

Louis, if it was fair of this hiring manager to pre-judge applicants on the presence or absence of a middle initial, is it fair of me to deem him as narrow-minded and shallow, knowing nothing else about him?

Whatever motivates this recruiter certainly doesn't move me. I am concerned about relevant factors---in this case, those pesky little indicators, like education, experience and competence. I understand there has to be a way of narrowing down the resumes, but a middle name doesn't cut it for me. How about sloppy grammar; lengthy, rambling submissions; asymmetrical formats and other factors that at least give insight into the applicant's overall knowledge and ability?

December 05 2010 at 8:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ok- This makes how many articles on resume improvement or refinement that have been on here? Now if they would all not be so damn contradictory of each other, then they might even be somewhat useful!! I've personally read just about all of them & that's about all they do- In my experience, If an employer wonders why there's a gap, they will ask! Yet another one I read says delete your school graduation dates! When I showed 2 different copies of my resume to a hiring consultant friend of mine, he asked, What did you do that for? Does my point of view make sense to anybody else out there??

December 05 2010 at 10:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web