In today’s Job market, very few people who have a seamless professional career. Many people take time off to take care of their children and others take time off of work to further their education or to care for an ailing parent. At times, some are laid off and it takes us months to get back on the bandwagon again. Almost everyone has a gap or two in their work history but no matter what the reason, gaps in your resume can be seen as a red flag. It’s your job to demonstrate to potential employers that any instability in your work history is behind you and that you are ready to work. Explaining a gap in employment during an interview can be tricky. The best approach is usually to address the issue in a direct and forthright manner. Provide a clear rationale for taking time off if the break was voluntary.
Take some time to reframe resume gaps so that you can present them in the best possible light and stay in the running for a job you deserve:
Be Brief and Professional
Don’t get bogged down in a lot of detail. Interviewers don’t need the minutia of your employment history. Cut to the chase, concisely state the cause of your absence from the workforce, and move on. Employers probably won’t blame you for having some time in between jobs if you were made redundant or even fired (although you might have some other explaining to do if it’s the latter). What you should accentuate, however, is what you were doing during the break to stay marketable; for instance did you do any volunteer work or complete any additional training?
Be Strategic and Thoughtful
Career gaps and transitions may not have been of your choosing but you can still show that you took control and did something useful with your time. Talk about volunteer work, any classes, course, and certification you took or business books you read.
Anything that demonstrates that you have a strong work ethic, are comfortable with change and dedicated to personal growth can serve to impress potential employer.
Job Gap Faux Pas
- Honesty is the Best policy
- Don’t Claim Sabbatical – If it wasn’t one. Getting fired from the lumberyard is not a sabbatical. Neither is watching QVC. Be honest in your answers.
- Don’t Fudge Dates – Employers will find you out. Having a job offer rescinded because your employment check doesn’t match your resume is gut-wrenching.
- Don’t Over-share – The interviewer doesn’t need to know the details of health issues or personal circumstances that led to your resume gap. Stick to the facts, so that an interviewer doesn’t think that you’re trying to play the “sympathy card.”
And One Big “DO”
Consider working with a Staffing Agency to ease your way back to the workforce. You can gain experience, refresh your skills and transit into a permanent job. You may enjoy temping so much you decide to stick with it. It’s a great way to manage times in your life when uncertainty may prevent you from returning to full time work.
It’s highly likely that you’ll be asked about career breaks during any interviews you get, so it’s best practice to have explained them already in your cover letter, thus avoiding any awkward questions at interview. You may still get asked, but only if the hiring manager needs more details.