Resume Help/Employment gap


I was laid off from my job of 16 yrs as a scheduler for a transportation company in 2010. At the same time I learned my mother had Alzheimer's disease. I decided to live off my fair severance and help my mother. Now that she has died, I need to work, because I am broke. There is so much working against me. I am 59; age discrimination is illegal, but it happens. Although I believe I'm  intelligent, I don't have the degree they all seem to want to see. I considered changing my resume style to cover the 6 yr gap, but I have absolutely nothing to fill it with - no certifications, etc. Any tips and ideas are appreciated.

Hi Ed,

Your situation is a familiar one; many people face the same dilemma with gaps in their resume.  My best advice at this point is to simply be honest.  If you include a cover letter with any applications, simply tell the employer that you were caring for your mother.  Just be direct and truthful.  What you describe is much more common than you might think, and if the employer can identify with your choices, it should be no problem for you.

It is true that age discrimination exists, but trying to do anything other than provide straight-forward information will come back to bite you at some future point.  If the lack of a college degree is an issue, you might look into a community college program for an AA (depending on what area you want to pursue). Otherwise, you will need to rely on your work history alone and that could limit the opportunities you will have going forward.

If you want to rework your resume to make it functional rather than chronological, you could do that, but it typically works best for people new to the work force, not a more experienced person like yourself.  I would stick with the chronological model and account for the gap with a very brief explanation.

Best wishes,

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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