Employment Gaps Explained: How to Handle a Gap on Your Resume

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Employment gaps tend to be a dreaded topic when it comes to resumes and interviews. Many of my clients worry about how they’ll be perceived if they have one… or more… gaps on their resumes. Is this a problem you’ve been facing?

What To Do

First of all, take a deep breath! Most people experience at least one or two employment gaps throughout their career. And while it may be a bit more challenging throughout the job search process, know that lots of people get past this (and you will too). A bit of positive and long-term thinking is really helpful in a situation like this.

1. Use years, not months in your resume.

This is quite an easy fix. If you left your job in January, and it’s now August, don’t list the months. Just say you left in 2011. If the employer asks during an interview, don’t lie about when you left – just tell them the truth (See point #2, below). Also, keep it consistent. If you don’t include months, don’t include months for any of your past positions.. stick with listing years for all of your roles.

2. Rehearse your story ahead of time.

Interviews are stressful enough as it is… the key is preparation! That’s the case for every interview, but here’s the thing… you just know your employer is going to ask you all those dreaded questions: “When did you leave your last job?” “Why did you leave your last job??”

You know you’re going to have to come up with an answer. So think about it. Google it a bit. Do some research. If you were laid off, don’t lie about it. But come up with a reasonable explanation. Explain that the company was going through massive layoffs, and unfortunately your position was eliminated. Test-drive your explanation past a couple of your close friends or former colleagues. Make sure you’re ready and comfortable explaining your situation in an interview (Well, as comfortable as you can be…. it is an interview, after all!)

3. Describe productive activities you’ve been involved in.

Your employment gap doesn’t have to be a gap. Sure, you may not have been employed, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been doing anything. Think of the things you’ve been doing with your time… have you been taking classes, volunteering, taking care of family or travelling?

If you haven’t been doing any of these things, and you’ve been taking some hard-earned time off, that’s okay too. But, why don’t you get started on volunteering or enrolling in a class now? You’ll be able to enhance your skills during your time off, PLUS this will give you something to talk about during your next interview.

If you need any help with interview preparation or resume writing, feel free to get in touch with me. I’m available for coaching or resume writing anytime!

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