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How To Explain Gaps in Employment

Many out of work or less experienced professionals are concerned about having gaps of employment appear on their resume. An employment gap is when there is an extensive amount of time between not having a desired position or having no job at all in their field of choice. Considering this to be an issue in the pursuit of gainful employment is certainly understandable, but it isn’t as detrimental as most believe it to be. There are definite ways to circumvent this perceived lack of experience and to continue to present one’s self as a leader in their industry.

Where Do I Present An Employment Gap?

An employment gap is something that you should address in your resume to make it clear that you are not hiding anything. It will present that this hasn’t been detrimental to your pursuit of success. Provide a reason for the gap as you would a description of your duties for a position, while also mentioning accomplishments within that time frame. Ensure that it is concise, brief and professional. 

Where do I present the gap in my employment?
Where do I present the gap in my employment?

It Will Be Brought Up In The Interview

Any sizeable gap will be questioned in the interview process. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, as it’s better that they address it with you than not mention it at all. This also gives you the opportunity to explain the situation in greater detail. When elaborating on your reasoning, ensure that you don’t make any excuses; blaming others will not aid you in appearing professional. You can express how this time away was beneficial to yourself and your expertise in your industry. Any additional or outside experience related to the position can help present you as a strong candidate. Ensure that you don’t dwell on your time away as you don’t want this gap to be the focus of the interview process. 

How Long Ago Was Your Gap?

You may not even have to address it if it was long ago. If you have an extensive professional career, your gap may not even be perceived as an issue by an employer. You won’t have to mention your time away if you can comfortably fill your resume with more recent job experiences. 

Be Honest

Not being forthright about your employment history can become very problematic. If one lie is uncovered, it would be assumed that there are more and you are likely untrustworthy. If you are forthcoming about your time away, they will appreciate your honesty.

How Do You Address It?

When this comes up in the interview, you truly have no reason to be nervous. Be confident- they wouldn’t want to sit down with you unless they saw you as a potential candidate. If you exude confidence it will appear that you are capable and comfortable in your abilities, while not lacking any of the requirements. Focus on the now, tell them what you are able to offer and how you specifically are capable of aiding them in achieving their goals. Show them that you have a wide array of past and consistent accomplishments in and outside of the workplace. Not being presently employed may actually come across as something positive, as you could make it appear you are very selective in your search and won’t just work anywhere. Essentially making it clear, that you are aware that you have a lot of value to bring and you see the organization that you are interviewing with as being deserving of what you bring to the table. References from professionals you’ve built relationships with who can attest to your character and capabilities outside of the workplace can also be helpful. A clear demonstration of loyalty will surely catch their eye. 

What Did You Do During The Gap?

The important thing is to put a positive spin on your gap. This may not even be untrue, as it could’ve been beneficial to yourself and the position you are looking at. Focus on what you accomplished and how it was pivotal to your professional development. Did you work part-time, freelance or volunteer? How did that aid in your career and personal self? What did you learn during this time? A continued education is very important in marketing your gap. How did you perfect your craft along the way? Did you develop any skills that apply to the role or any life lessons?

What did you do during the employment gap?
What did you do during the employment gap?

What If I Have A Gap Now?

If you currently have a gap, now is the best time to do something about it. There are general things you can do, such as volunteering or working part-time that would work in your favour. It would be wise to focus those efforts in the industry that you are looking to gain permanent employment in. Not every experience has to be paid, and hiring managers are very aware of this. The more you shorten the gap, the better you will look on paper. Use your time of unemployment to continue your personal development in that space. 

Do Companies Avoid Hiring Those With Employment Gaps?

Gaps in employment are a common occurrence and one that hiring managers encounter frequently when reviewing resumes and interviewing. Employers are often attuned to the market and tend to understand what the current challenges might be to a potential job seeker. It’s not just limited to market factors. There are many other reasons for having substantial gaps in your resume. Where it be that you were ill or had to take care of a family member for an extended period of time, staying home after a mat leave to take care of your children or a full-time return to school to upgrade your skills - employers have heard it all and don’t tend to necessarily view it as a negative. Finding your path can also be considered a valid excuse, people make efforts to change their careers all the time. Talking about your passion and the steps you’ve taken towards your new industry of choice can help justify your prolonged gap, and can also be seen as a huge positive.

The feeling that you cannot achieve anything due to being off the job market is unwarranted. An unemployment gap is not a massive roadblock towards success. It’s all about how you present yourself while having a lapse in your work history. It is entirely possible that this time away won’t be used against you as there are a wide array of reasons to justify stepping away for some time. If you are open and honest, and have a valid reason, you can easily explain why this is the case. Every hiring manager is aware that we are in the midst of a pandemic and having a stretch of unemployment is to be expected. It all comes down to being proactive now and showing that you have a history of successes even outside of your career. Being employed does not express the full scope of your experience and loyalty. The key is to prove that you weren’t wasting your time. Make it apparent that you have always been working toward progressing professionally. Take the initiative now and build on your education and expertise while showcasing your passion and what you uniquely have to offer. 


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