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How to Explain Gaps in Employment Due to Mental Illness


If you have resume gaps due to mental illness, you may be worried about how to present your work history in an interview. You may even wonder if you’ll be able to land an interview in the first place. 

You should know that it’s not uncommon to have a gap in your resume due to depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, or another mental illness. Many people suffer from health problems that make it difficult to keep up with traditional work requirements, and no one should feel guilty about it! 

If you’re readying yourself to join the workforce again, read these tips for putting your best foot forward during the application process. 

Explaining Resume Gaps Due to Mental Illness

See the Gaps as a Positive

It’s not necessarily a bad thing for your resume to contain employment gaps. It can demonstrate your ability to persevere and overcome adversity. 

It can also show a personal responsibility for your health. After all, you wouldn’t want to return to work while you’re still struggling with an illness. Taking the time to recover will show your commitment to doing good work. 

Emphasize What You Accomplished

Gaps in your employment history don’t need to be the main focus of your resume. Try to highlight your accomplishments at previous jobs you’ve worked. 

If you did anything during your employment gap to improve yourself, mention that as well. Maybe you completed a skills training course, did volunteer work, or took a class. Working full-time isn’t the only way to gain valuable experience. 

Be Honest

Be prepared to briefly and honestly explain your absence from work activities should your potential employer ask. Consider saying something like, “I took time off to recover from an illness. I now have my condition under control and am looking forward to rejoining the workforce.” 

Don’t Go Chronologically

Resumes don’t have to follow a chronological format. For example, you can list work experience by how relevant it is to the position you are applying for rather than the order in which you worked. This is a good way to shift the focus away from your work timeline while highlighting the skills you’ve learned along the way. 

Utilize Your Cover Letter

If you’re worried about hiring managers scrapping your resume because of gaps in employment, consider writing an explanation in your cover letter. Just briefly state that you were recovering from an illness during that time. 

Apply to the Right Companies

Certain companies may be more understanding of gaps in your resume because of mental illness. For example, you might look for openings at health and wellness companies that emphasize mental health. In these cases, having health challenges can show your commitment to the values of the company. 

Preparing to Enter the Workforce 

At The Recovery Academy, we help young men gain the life skills they need to work and live independently again. We believe that everyone’s journey is different. That’s why we create a unique rehabilitation plan for each individual. 

If you’re struggling with a substance use disorder, mental health condition, or both, our sober house in St. Paul is here to help. We offer a structured and supportive living environment to help you gain the skills you need to thrive. Call (339) 222-2287 for more information. 

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