How to Explain Gap in Employment

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    How do you account for gaps in employment due to disability? I developed a chronic illness when I was a teenager and it didn't get accurately diagnosed and treated until I was 28 (it was a rare illness). I was the one that pushed my doctors (and insurance) to finally diagnose and treat me and it made me appreciate patient advocacy and so I went for a career in nursing.

    I went on disability at 19 and aside from the typical teenage part time job, I have no work history.

    After getting treated, it changed my life drastically and I immediately went back to school and 1.5 years later I am done with my pre reqs and headed into my second semester of nursing school to be an RN. The lady at OVR seemed convinced that because I got into a competitive school and I'm in medicine that I'll have jobs thrown at me, but I'm not so convinced.

    I recently signed up to volunteer at a local hospital to get my foot in the door. I've volunteered at a animal rescue, since starting school 1.5 years ago, but decided to switch to a hospital. I'm not sure what else I can do to increase my chances of landing a job after graduation? And how I can possibly explain to an employer that I spent over ten years completely disabled and now I'm suddenly not?

    Dear No Work History,

    You explain your gap employment (if asked) by saying "I had some medical issues but they are completely resolved now".

    When you start out as a new grad, previous non-nursing experience is not counted all that high, except to show reliability and soft skills. All new grads start off with zero nursing experience, so you all have pretty much the same qualifications.

    Depending on how competitive your area is, consider working as a CNA or patient tech in a hospital you'd like to work in as a nurse. You will have insider advantage and be able to make contacts and show your work ethic.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,482; Likes: 4,368


  3. by   Froggybelly
    I don't think you'll necessarily have an issue finding employment. Many people pursue nursing after (self or family) illness. I knew that with no experience and minimal qualifications, I wasn't the "best applicant," so when my interviewer asked me, I was honest. I said, "I can't guarantee I'll be the most qualified person for the job, but here's why I'll be your favorite." I highlighted my soft skills, willingness to learn, and flexibility. I beat out a lot of competition to land a position and did well during my time at that job. If you have a well-written resume and can interview confidently, someone will hire you. Yes, they have to check their qualification boxes, but managers hire people that they *want* to work with.

    Good luck!