5 Tips on How to Explain Gaps in Your Employment History
Your resume paints a picture of the “professional you” as a person. Unfortunately, long gaps in your work history sometime give employers the wrong impression about your abilities and ambitions. A long unexplained gap in your resume can imply that you’re not capable of landing a job. It may send the message that you were “let go” from your previous job and couldn’t get back into a position. Worst of all, it can hint that you’re lazy, or that you don’t care about your career.
None of these scenarios likely describe you. So, you need to inspect your resume and make sure any gaps are explained. It’s important to do so now, since it may prevent you from ever getting to the interview stage. Take charge of your career’s narrative rather than letting a hiring manager’s imagination fill in the blank. Consider these tips:
1. Emphasize why you were let go from your previous position. Perhaps it was restructuring or downsizing. If that coincides with a recession, this tells a story to the employer.
2. Sound positive when talking about why you left your job before the gap. Hiring managers may question why you didn’t wait to find a new job before quitting your old one, especially since it’s easier to find a new job while you’re already working. Speak confidently in your response.
3. If you left a job voluntarily, let the hiring manager know the reason why. It’s perfectly acceptable to mention taking time off to travel or to deal with a family situation. If there’s a purpose for the gap, it’s much more acceptable to hiring managers than a generic gap that may make it seem like you did nothing in the interim.
4. Stress activities you undertook during the gap to improve your professional standing. This may include certifications or courses, consulting or freelance work, or volunteering. If you truly were let go for some reason, then you need to explain this in the job interview. Be prepared with a good response rather than answering off the cuff.
5. Be honest. Be truthful, and aim to show the hiring manager that you see continuity in your career, you’re focused on the long-term, can proactively respond to challenges and – finally – that you’re in control of your own destiny.