Having gaps in your employment history can be a source of stress and anxiety for any job seeker. But you aren’t alone in this predicament, and if you approach the situation correctly, your skills and value as an employee will show to hiring managers, instead of your extended period of time away from working. People can have gaps in their resume for a number of reasons, such as parenthood, caring for a sick relative, education, travel, and being fired or laid off.
Employers understand that life happens and nobody is perfect, but often times if they see a glaring and unexplained gap in your resume they can jump to conclusions and move on. Some of the assumptions that could be drawn from gaps in your employment history include lack of career ambition, laziness, or that you were fired from your last job for a reason so extreme you were unable to find work for years after. Don’t let the gaps in your resume get in the way of your desire to work and find the right job. Here are a few tips on how to explain gaps in your employment history:
1) Approach the Issue Before the Interview
Don’t assume that you can explain the gap in your employment history during the interview for the job, since it could rule you out as a candidate before you are able to get an interview. In your cover letter, give a brief explanation as to why you left or were let go from the job you had before the gap, and fill in your resume with what you did during your period of unemployment. This can include any freelance or consulting work, volunteer work or personal projects. If you took an exciting and inspiring trip to another part of the world that expanded who you are as a person and a professional, include that as well.
2) Be Honest
Avoid any temptation to cover up the gaps in your employment history by giving false dates, lying about being fired, or any other form of dishonesty on your resume or during the interview. Hiring managers can look into your history and easily find out if you are lying about the gaps in your resume, which can ruin your chance at the job altogether. Furthermore, your courage and confidence to be up front and honest about the gaps in your employment history is likely to impress employers. If you were fired or laid off, reflect on what the experience taught you and how you grew as a person. If you were taking care of your children or a sick relative, share about the skills you gained from that experience and how excited you are to apply them in the workforce.
3) Brush Up on Your Skills
If you have been away from the workforce for an extended period of time, chances are things have changed. There may be new software used now in your profession, or a new way of doing certain tasks. Make up for the gaps in your employment history by showing that you have brought yourself up to date on the skills in your industry. You can do this easily and inexpensively by taking online courses in a variety of subjects such as web development, online marketing and data science through websites such as Coursera.com and Lynda.com. It is also a good idea to strengthen the gaps in your resume by attending networking events, joining professional organizations and connecting with people you know from past jobs to get caught up on industry trends (and also get possible job referrals.)
Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.