How to Fill in Employment Gaps in Your Nursing Resume

Melissa Mills
by Melissa Mills   Career Advice Contributor 

So, you’ve had a few gaps in your employment history. Don’t worry — your career isn’t over. Job lapses are more common than you may think, and employers can understand that sometimes things happen that make employment breaks necessary.

There are a number of reasons why you may have a gap in your resume. Maybe you were downsized from a nursing position. Perhaps you had to care for children or other family members. Health issues, surgery or other treatments can also make taking time off from your nursing career a necessity. Whether these hiatuses are planned or not, they will most likely leave you wondering how to fill the employment gaps in your resume.

Also factor in that, as a nurse, you may have worked in a specialty that wasn’t a good fit. Finding yourself in any of these positions can result in short stints in your nursing job history. When it comes to finding a new job, friends or colleagues may suggest getting creative when filling gaps in your resume or leaving specific jobs out altogether.

For inspiration and guidance, check out our Nursing Resume Samples, which can help fill in gaps in your employment history. There are many ways to format a resume to outline your nursing journey and minimize the possible adverse effects those employment gaps will have on your future. Consider the following best practices before updating your nursing resume and applying for a new position. 

Bridge the gap and build a seamless story

Unexplained holes in your nursing employment can cause some managers to pass you over. You need to know how to fill employment gaps in your resume before applying to new nursing opportunities.

Keep these tips in mind as you go:

  • Honesty is the best policy: Recruiters and hiring managers will assume the worst if you don’t share your career story. But that doesn’t mean you need to explain every detail. Address gaps in your resume briefly and directly in one or two sentences. State what you were doing during this time and put a positive spin on the gap if possible:

From May 2018 to January 2019, I took time off from my nursing career to care for my terminally ill mother. 

After a layoff from my nursing job in June 2018, I dedicated several months to finding a job that fit my overall professional nursing career goals.

  • Don’t fudge dates: You may be tempted to shorten your period of unemployment as you try to figure out how to fill gaps in your CV or resume. Many healthcare employers perform background checks, so they will likely discover the actual dates on their own. If they find out you bent the truth, your resume will go straight into the recycling bin.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff: If your time away from the nursing profession was six months or less, it probably won’t hurt you. Explain any gaps in employment by stating “job seeking” and move on. If the pause in your nursing career occurred a decade ago, most employers won’t be too concerned, especially if you’ve demonstrated a stable employment history since. Remember to be honest about what happened when filling gaps in your resume, then highlight your current nursing experience. 
  • Job hopping is not a gap: Many nursing employers hire job hoppers even if they have initial concerns. If you land a nursing job interview, prepare for common interview questions regarding these short stints. Stay positive and never bash former employers.
  • Choose the best resume format: Experts believe most hiring managers spend about six seconds looking over your resume. Choose a resume format that showcases your nursing skills, not your lapses in employment. Once you decide on a format, look for a sample resume with gaps in employment to guide you through your complex nursing employment history.

Remember, when filling gaps in your nursing resume, always approach the situation with honesty and professionalism. Our Resume Builder (and Cover Letter Builder, too) will help you structure your skills and experience in an aesthetically pleasing and impactful way that showcases who you are and what you can bring to the job. Use these tools to minimize your nursing employment gaps and maximize your potential in securing the position of your dreams. 

About the Author

Career Advice Contributor

Melissa Mills Career Advice Contributor

Melissa is a nurse with over 21 years of experience, ranging from bedside to executive level leadership. Her writing has appeared in Oncology Nursing News, AllNurses, and MindBodyGreen. She enjoys helping nurses explore their careers to get the most out of the profession. She worked as a hiring manager for over a decade, and understands the importance of networking, creating a stellar resume, and writing a cover letter that tells your story as a nursing professional.


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