Renaissance Ranch

How to Explain a Time Gap Due to Addiction Treatment

Jun 21, 2022

A resume is the first impression a hiring manager has of you when you’re applying for a job. Being honest about a gap helps a hiring manager have a better sense of who you are. Understanding how to address a gap without sharing too much is crucial. You may worry about how to explain a hole in your resume, especially if it’s because of substance addiction treatment. Time away from your career because of a substance use disorder (SUD) or mental illness is harder to explain. The best way to explain time away is to decide on a path that works for you.

Employment Gaps

Employment gaps are times in your life when you don’t have a job. You may have a gap that lasts a few weeks, months, or years. Whether the loss of a job was involuntary or voluntary, a hiring manager will want to know why there was a time when you weren’t working. Be prepared to explain the gap in your resume by addressing it in your cover letter or an interview. Also, formulate an answer that explains what you learned during your break. Sometimes, you can talk about new skills or how you kept with your profession while you were away.

How to Explain a Gap

Hiring managers know people sometimes take a break from their profession. Before the pandemic, breaks in employment were becoming common. During and after the pandemic, time gaps are increasingly standard. There’s nothing to worry about if you’re honest about the time. 

It would help if you didn’t hide or blur any time you weren’t employed. However, if you want to skip letting a potential employer know about a small break (a few weeks), consider your career. What does this mean? Job seekers in a position or job for over a year can notate it using years (e.g., 2015-2021) instead of months and years (e.g., 5/2015-6/2021). When you do this, you can skip the gap. Also, another way to bypass a hole is to leave it open-ended (e.g., 2015-). Yet, your hiring manager can discover the break with some digging. Instead of trying to hide a break, use the gap to your advantage.

First, because you can use the opportunity to explain what you learned while you were away, you aren’t obliged to tell a hiring manager exactly why you weren’t working for a time. If you don’t want to let the hiring manager know you received treatment for SUD, don’t. Instead, focus on what you learned while you took time off. Discuss the coping skills you learned; skills like meditation, creative hobbies, or exercise are valuable. Skills that help you assess, process, and find a solution are vital to any profession. They show you how to step back and not engage in harmful or time-wasting behavior. Furthermore, processing a situation while engaged in a healthy activity can increase your creativity and prevent burnout.

Second, eventually, the hiring manager will find out. When the hiring manager runs a background check, the gap will appear. If you’re not honest about your employment record, you may lose the job you just landed. 

When Substance Addiction or Mental Health Treatment Is the Reason for a Gap

The Federal government created the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which gives you unpaid, job-protected leave for a certain amount of time while in treatment. FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for illness. 

Where to Explain a Gap

You have three chances to let potential employers know about your gap during your job search. Use your cover letter, resume, and interview as opportunities.

Your cover letter is how people get to know your voice. Keep the letter focused on the job you’re applying for by mentioning your skills and abilities. When you write your cover letter, include one or two lines informing the hiring manager that you took time off and are ready to return to work. Including a sentence or two about your time off, you foreshadow the break in your resume.

Sharing your time off on your resume is handled in various ways. You can choose the most comfortable method by considering your comfort level.

You can state you took time off to receive care for an illness. Then, you can let the hiring manager know that you’re ready to rejoin the workforce. Remember, you don’t need to tell anyone what treatment you received unless you feel comfortable talking about your care. A caveat, though, while you may feel comfortable discussing your treatment in an interview, refrain from putting too much detail on your resume. A one-on-one conversation helps you explain, in particular, where a resume doesn’t.

While you’re in an interview, discuss what you did during your time away. Did you learn new skills, keep up on industry news, or take a course? The bottom line is to shift the focus from your treatment to your skills. By highlighting the positives, you can show your potential. Activities that enhance your job skills boost your chances of being asked for an interview or a job offer. So, try mentioning the various holistic therapy options your treatment center provides.

Taking a break from work to help yourself heal is a difficult decision. You may worry about your employment status, but don’t let your fear get in the way of finding the path to health and well-being. Renaissance Ranch Treatment Centers can help you navigate your treatment. Our comprehensive care programs provide the chance to learn and build healthy coping skills. Allow yourself to let go and open yourself up to the possibilities completely. Learn how exercise like yoga can release harmful feelings and let in healthy, productive feelings. We also encourage you to participate in group and individual therapy. You can learn how your behaviors affected your work and personal relationships. Additionally, our faith-based philosophy builds a solid foundation for life choices. We welcome you to find your physical and mental well-being with us. To find out more, call (801) 308-8898 today.