A major challenge faced by job seekers is how to explain a gap in their work history. Taking time away from the workforce can happen for a variety of reasons such as raising a family, an illness, taking time off to upgrade your skills, or travel.
The main point you want to get across to a potential employer is that your absence from the workforce is not negative. One of the best ways to do that is to not make it an obvious or major point on your resume.
If this is the first job you are looking for since taking time off, you can, if you wish, mention it in your cover letter. One or two lines should suffice. You do not need to go into any detail. If you took time off to raise your family, you could get the point across simply by saying something like you took some personal time to spend with your family and now you are excited and ready to return to the workforce.
In your resume itself, you do not need to mention you've taken time off. Just write up your resume as you normally would, placing strong emphasis on your skills and experience.
If your absence from the workforce comes up during the interview, re-state exactly what you mentioned in your cover letter.
If you've had an employment gap in the past, and you've since been employed, there is no need to mention anything in your cover letter. Just write up your resume as you normally would and be truthful in the dates you list on your resume.
Another way to relieve some interviewer anxiety about gaps in your employment history, is to provide reference letters. If you can show your potential employer that you left your past position on good terms and that your skills had nothing to do with no longer being employed at that job, it will go a long way towards helping to minimize the impact of an employment gap.
By understanding what employers fear from a work history gap, you can address their anxiety. Many employers are concerned that by having gaps in your employment history, you will be prone to leaving or quitting your new job. By making sure your potential employer understands your desire to return to the workforce and your strong work ethic, it will go a long way towards instilling confidence in your potential employer.
Other employers may be concerned about your skill sets and how you've kept current in your field if you've taken time off. By focusing on your skills, highlighting positive achievements in your past work, and by adapting skills you've learned in your time off to this new position, you can help alleviate some of those fears.
Essentially, you want to get across that though you've taken time off, you are now ready to return to the workforce, with a strong set of skills, a good attitude, and the ability to do the job.