Why do you have a career gap

How can a career gap due to a longstanding legal drama be explained?

My normal work experience has been starting out as a software developer and eventually becoming a software (or "technical") architect. My wife runs her own business and a few years ago she took on what she thought was a simple legal case that started out as a minor civil case (tort law), but unfortunately it "grew legs" and blew into a legal nightmare that was in danger of wiping you out financially and my wife was completely overwhelmed and she needed my help to get through.

It was a dire situation for her and I quit my job to take care of it so my wife could focus on keeping her business going as she couldn't manage both of them. Unfortunately, the investigation took several years. During that time, my time was split between working with our legal entities to resolve the case and helping my wife run her business in a back office role taking on responsibilities like marketing, human resources, accounts and administration, etc. The litigation had to be fought in front of a number of courts for several years until it was completed (luckily successful). I can't exaggerate the amount of stress and pressure involved

But it's finally over and I'm now ready to go back to my normal career in software. The reason I give some history is because I am trying to figure out what to say on my resume, LinkedIn profile and during interviews to explain why I dropped out of my software career and what I did with the last one Number made from years?

Part of my challenge is for the final agreement to include a toggle clause that the events must not be passed on to third parties so that I cannot discuss the events and that is on my mind: how can I describe this period without this clause to break? Also, am I concerned that if I mention on my resume or on LinkedIn that I've been involved in a massive legal battle for several years, an employer could misinterpret events? Would that be a deterrent for employers? Should I ignore it like it never happened and just discuss my back office roles? But then does it also look disadvantageous to switch from a software architect to a back office role for small businesses without explaining why? I'm a bit stuck on how to explain this career gap so I would appreciate advice on what to say.

I think it is unlikely that I will be able to return after such a long time as a software architect. Hence, I will likely have to go back to coding to regain technical skills first. But how can I interest software companies in my last few years on a resume or during an interview?

Many of the skills I acquired as a software architect have been successfully re-used: I can say that my written communication skills have improved massively due to my legal experience, as I had to create countless documents to simplify complex questions for the courts and to to explain. I would say I've become exceptional at reducing complex topics to simple concepts and explaining things logically. And that under the pressure of tight court deadlines.

Document management and organization were also something I got exceptionally good at, and I would say I was better than the lawyers at that because I knew how to use computers. Every document and slip of paper in our life has been scanned into searchable PDFs and organized so that whenever someone claimed to have done or said something in the past, I could get our information instantly (you have no idea how much this the other side confused and frustrated ...)

In the back office role I did things like setting up a new website, branding, social media and SEO. I also organized a new Windows Server & Workstations & Network and set up IT systems. I reorganized the accounts and took care of the human resources department, put in place written policies and procedures, and various other administrators. I think about what job title to give myself, it's my wife's business so I can give myself the job title I want. Would it be appropriate to give me the title of "Managing Director"?


@JoeStrazzere Am I ashamed of that? Rather, my reluctance is based on the fact that the final agreement contained a toggle clause that the events must not be passed on to third parties so that I cannot discuss the events, and that is on my mind: how can you describe this period without this clause to break? I should have said I'll correct that on the question instead of "it doesn't seem appropriate". And yes, I was employed by my wife in the back office at the same time it started.


As for the people voting to close, could you add a comment to indicate why so I can figure out what to address.

Xavier J.

The gag order only applies if you were actually a party named in the case.


@JoeStrazzere, as pointed out by others in the comments on DevNull's answer, mentioning legal issues on my resume could be misinterpreted, and that's also part of my reluctance I wasn't sure about. So the opinion at the moment seems to be that I shouldn't mention such legal issues on a résumé. I can explain it during the interview if I am asked. I think it's easy to explain to my next employer why I'm not quitting to help my wife again. The case is closed.


Don't mention legal issues or dramas on your resume. Personally, I would leave the company, I would use a term like technical manager or something. Architectural roles are hard to come by, and almost all of them are rewards for seniors who stand out from a company. But you should be able to return to a senior development role, although I suspect you may have something to do with the advances in technology over the past few years.


Two important points:

I think it is unlikely that I will be able to return after such a long time as a software architect

Nonsense! I have known several women who became full-time mothers and later returned to the industry in full swing. Bringing some rusty skills up to date is trivial with solid effort and work ethic.

... I quit my job to take care of it so my wife could focus on keeping her business going as she couldn't manage both of them

That is very admirable of you. There's nothing wrong with that. I interviewed very talented people who had career gaps due to a new (unexpected) child and had to move to their home country to look after sick parents who could not immigrate, even a colleague who dropped what he was doing Served in the military for 4 years.

Just be honest and note that you had to take time off to help your family. You don't have to go into the bloody details. Taking time off for a family engagement is not a problem unless you've just dropped everything (no notice, evaded your fiduciary duties, etc.).


@DevNull "Just be honest and note that you had to take time off to help your family" - so do you think it would be better on my résumé to state exactly what the type of family problem was or not? Is it better to mention "legal case" on the résumé first or leave it unspecified until asked at the interview?


@ abc123 I would avoid mentioning legal issues on your resume. It could be misinterpreted if you are on trial for criminal activity, tax evasion or the like. You might be wondering if you actually got fired.


@ abc123 Just mention that you took time off to help your family. Word it as you want. Mentioning "legal issues" sounds like you are guilty of something when your description is a tort law case more than a crime.

Patricia Shanahan

This is a little more explicit than just helping your family:

My wife's business had a really unusual situation that required an extra person to deal with it. That is now completely resolved and probably won't happen again in the future. While working on it, I used skills to reduce complex problems to simple concepts, explain things logically, and document the organization. I worked on tight deadlines.

The idea is to say what you did, reassure them that you are unlikely to stop in the future for the same reason, and then quickly move on to a discussion of skills that would be extremely valuable to a software architect.