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Addressing Gaps in Employment

If you have a gap in employment, it might bring about anxiety as you search for jobs or go through the interview process. Gaps in employment get a bad rap considering they aren’t necessarily a bad thing to have on your resume. When a student takes a gap year as part of their education process to refocus and get themselves back on track to succeed in school, it serves them better in the long run. The same could be said for someone walking into an interview with a gap in employment on their resume.

What if an employment gap is due to child rearing, caretaking for an elderly family member, or a return to school? Why should a job candidate feel anxious to explain a very adult decision they made? Whatever the case, it’s important to follow simple steps when explaining gaps.

Step #1 – Be Honest

Don’t give potential employers the opportunity to assume or search for why the gap exists, stay ahead of the hunt and explain it to them. If there’s a gap, keep it on your resume. This shouldn’t be something you have to hide. You can make your explanation brief, there’s no need to go into detail that isn’t necessary.

A great way to personalize the gap is to share how you bettered yourself during that time. Did you keep up on industry happenings or grow in your professional / personal development? Share as much as you’re comfortable sharing.

Step #2 – Be Prepared

The topic will come up if it’s on your resume, so prep yourself with how you plan to respond. When it comes up, you don’t want to be left stammering, searching for words or an explanation. Follow 3 quick tips:

  • Explain Gaps Appropriately
  • Explain the Value You Bring
  • Explain in a Concise Manner

Step #3 – Stay Confident

Employers might assume you will jump ship and add another gap in your resume, reassure them this isn’t the case, and remain confident as you do. You know better than anyone how qualified you are for the job you’ve applied and that you’re committed to succeeding in it. The first job you have is to sell yourself and your future plans. If you feel confident in the position and company, make this apparent. There’s no need to sabotage opportunities you’ve been given by sharing things that can hurt you.

No gap in employment will change your value if you stay confident and remember that a gap in employment doesn’t make you a job hopper. Job hoppers leave a job in 1-2 years, employment gaps are career breaks over 6-9 months.

Step #4 – Move On

Your explanation doesn’t need to last the entirety of the job interview. Explain what you need to confidently and move on. This process should only last a couple of minutes, if that. Before moving on, finish up your explanation by highlighting how the employment gap allowed for the development you needed. Most of the time, gaps in employment are personal or private. Once you’ve explained what’s needed, get the conversation back on track by discussing what you offer the position you’re pursuing.

If the interviewer pushes for more, feel free to get up and walk out. That’s not the kind of job environment you want to be in anyways.

Does having gaps in employment put you at a disadvantage in the hiring process? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out How to Stop Overthinking Every Decision.