How To Explain Gaps in Your Resume

How To Explain Gaps in Your Resume

Finding a job after you quit or lose your position isn't always fast. In fact, it could take months for you to find a new position. While you might be most concerned about paying your bills, you should also have concerns about the gap in your resume. Employers are always curious about why there are resume gaps. If you have months or even years between working jobs, you should be ready to explain your gap. When you do, keep all of the following tips in mind:

Include the Gap in Your Resume

You might plan on avoiding a question about your resume gap altogether. If so, you probably plan on leaving out information about the employment gap on your resume. Will a hiring manager really know that you quit in August and not November? Unfortunately, the answer is yes; they will. Omitting or lying about the gap on your resume is not the right choice.

Rather than leave your gap out, include it on your resume. That said, don't highlight it or make the information front and center. Explain the gap in one or two lines, and say what you were doing. Don't try to pretend like it never happened or over explain things.

Be Truthful

You could lie about the gap in your resume, but this isn't the best choice. If you try to hide the truth about your time away from your career, it could come back to haunt you. There's a chance that your interviewer will uncover the reality and be very unhappy with your deceit.

When someone asks you about the gap, be honest. For instance, you might have stayed home to look after a sick relative. It's unlikely that an employer would hold that against you. Another common reason for a gap is the failure to find the right job. Once again, being honest will only help you. Explain that you've been waiting for the right position because you don't plan on changing jobs. Your words will assure them that you're someone who won't leave after a few months on the job.

Be Ready for the Question

If you're caught off guard by a question about your resume, you won't answer with confidence. No matter how good your reason for lengthy unemployment might be, your future employers won't like it if you stutter through the explanation.

Just as you prepare for other interview questions, prepare for this one. It's almost certain that you'll have a question about your gap in employment, so think about how you want to answer. Typically, any gap over three months will warrant a question. Once you come up with an answer, practice saying it out loud. When the day of your interview comes around, you'll sound confident.

Highlight the Positive

Whatever your reason for a gap in employment may be, there's a way to paint it in a positive light. The way in which you do that depends on the reason you took a break from work. For example, let's say you stayed at home to raise your kids. Running a household takes certain skills. You need to have leadership, management, and organizational skills.

During your time away, you may have stayed up-to-date on industry trends or taken professional courses. Make a list of all the things you can mention to a hiring manager. Instead of seeing your time away as a negative, they'll see it as a good thing.

While you're unemployed, make a conscious effort to do things that will assist you with the job search. If you have time, volunteer somewhere. Use the time to get a professional certification or take an online course.

Have Confidence

It's easy to feel anxious about being asked why you were unemployed for so long. However, you can let that anxiety go and replace it with confidence. Remind yourself that countless others have been in the same shoes, and they've overcome.

Even if you struggle with confidence, you can practice this skill at home. Try explaining to a friend why you have a gap in your employment. Pick someone who knows nothing about your time away from work, and you'll need to have genuine confidence.

When the hiring manager asks the question, answer with professionalism and poise. Answering with confidence shows the employer that you have nothing to hide.

Talk About the Future

Although you have to talk about the gap in your resume, you don't need to harp on it. Rather than focus all your time on explaining how you came to be unemployed, talk about the future. Explain how excited you are for a new opportunity and how much you want to be in the workplace.

It's true that a hiring manager cares about the past. But they care even more about your potential. If you can show them that you're passionate and eager to work, they may care more about that than your resume gap.

Be sure to mention some future goals you have and how their company can help you achieve those goals. When the interviewer asks you about your future plans, keep your answer centered around their company. Don't give them any inclination that you might leave the position any time in the near or distant future.

Prove You Won't Make the Same Mistakes

If the gap in your resume was due to a mistake you made in the workplace, you still have a chance at getting a new job. The employer wants to know that you won't make the same mistakes that you made in the past. To give them some reassurance, explain how you've learned from your mistakes.

Owning up to your shortcomings shows self-awareness - a trait every employer wants their employees to have. By being open about your errors and explaining how you've improved yourself, you set yourself apart from other applicants.

Consider this example. You were fired for several detail-oriented mistakes. If you tell your employer that you failed to pay attention to the details, also tell them what you're doing to keep that from happening again. You might be taking more time with individual tasks or double-checking all your work.

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