Having employment gaps on your resume is fairly common, in fact, according to a Monster survey, “Three in five Americans (59%) have been unemployed or had a gap in their career”. Whether it was due to a layoff, taking time to raise kids, an illness, going back to school, etc. it’s something that can happen to anyone. It’s important to be prepared to explain these resume gaps during an interview and turn what could be a negative conversation into something positive.
Keep it General
One thing to note, when explaining your resume gap is that you don’t need to give the interviewer specific details about why you were unemployed. In an article on Grammarly they write, “One important thing to note here: You should never feel pressured to go into personal details when explaining why you took time away from work. Instead, the goal is to show that a gap in employment doesn’t impact your qualifications to take on this particular role.”
Don’t be tempted to try to hide or brush off your employment gap. While you don’t need to go over every detail about why you were temporarily out of work, it is important to be transparent and honest. If you need any convincing, in an article on Monster, they write “Lying about your resume gap is a really, really bad idea. Don’t change the dates of employment so it looks like you’re still working at the company or shift them so it seems like you have a shorter gap. Employers can verify your career history, and you could get fired for lying on your resume. Honesty is always the best policy.”
Speak About Your Skills
If there are any soft or hard skills or jobs you held during your time off, it’s important to let the interviewer know. This could include certifications, classes, freelance work, part-time jobs, etc. In an article on Forbes, they write, “During the interview, explain how you kept up with industry trends and developments during your gap period and did not let your skills and knowledge atrophy. If you did any consulting or freelance work, be sure to mention it. Did you get any certifications or licenses during this employment break? You can also bring attention to how you exercised your soft skills, like communication.” Essentially, it’s important to show that you never stopped learning and growing during your time off.
While your employment gap may be something you feel ashamed or embarrassed about, it’s important to not let that come across in the interview. Keep things positive and stay confident. In the same Forbes article, they write, “Don’t be defensive or apologize for the gap in your résumé. Instead, be confident and focus on your skills and experience that make you a strong candidate for the job. Let them know that you have been selective in your job search process and are not just jumping at the first job opportunity, which accounts for why you haven’t locked down a job yet.”
Before the interview, it’s important to craft your response and practice your answer ahead of time until it feels natural and somewhat memorized. With your response you’ll want to keep it clear, concise, honest, and to the point.