When asked about employment dates, don’t make any attempt to hide the gaps. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the vast majority of people have been unemployed at some point in their working-age lives. Everyone has to deal with employment gaps so don’t get overly worked up about it, and don’t talk for too long in your answer – it is seen as “protesting too much,” and a signifier of hiding something.
If you have been caught in mergers and layoffs, simply explain that. A gap of a few months is nothing to worry about. With gaps approaching a year and longer, it is important that you were doing something, whether it was temp work, certification, or occasional consulting gigs, along with time spent on your job hunt.
Reason for employment gap
If you took time off for personal reasons. “I was able to take some time off work to focus on myself. It was a time that prepared me to take on new challenges. I’m incredibly excited about the opportunities that lie ahead, such as this position.”
If you left the job to help your family: “I spent some time as the primary caretaker in my family. During that time, I was able to be there for my family but always knew I wanted to return to work. I’m ready to do that now.”
If you were laid off. “My former employer underwent a restructuring that resulted in my position being eliminated. To be honest, it was a difficult time. But I left with the confidence that I had developed important skills there and built strong relationships with my managers and colleagues. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to apply those experiences in my next job.”
How to speak on employment gap
Be prepared to talk about it
Having a gap on your resume won’t necessarily prevent you from moving successfully through the interview process. But potential employers will expect an explanation. Take the time beforehand to work out how you can address the gap in a way that projects confidence and positivity.
You want to be truthful without going into unnecessary detail. A basic template for your answer could be: “I (reason you were not employed). During that time, (what you did during the gap). Returning to work was top of mind during that period and I’m ready to do that now.”
Fill the gap
While you don’t need to go into detail about what caused your employment gap, you should give specifics on how you spent that time. Mention anything you read to keep up on the industry, how you stayed in touch with colleagues, or what you’ve done to prepare for your re-entry. Also bring up any freelance work, volunteer or community positions you’ve held, classes or events you’ve attended, or any other way you’ve advanced your professional skills. The goal is to convey that you’ve been engaged even if you haven’t been formally employed.
Keep it brief
Many people take time off for one reason or another. Sometimes, these reasons are personal and something you prefer to keep private. Once you’ve addressed the gap and explained what you did during that time, steer the conversation back to your desire and ability to do the job you’re interviewing for. You can do this by asking a question of your interviewer once you’ve answered their question.