Effective Tips on How to Explain Employment Gap on Your Resume and During the Job Interview

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job seeker explaining their employment gap during the interview

Employers and recruiters frequently make their initial impressions of you based on your resume. Hence, it’s critical to address any instances of employment gap in your resume so that it doesn’t negatively impact the perception headhunters have of you. Knowing how to use work gaps as a positive on your resume will help you build a strong experience section.

In this post, we’ve covered everything you need to know about how to explain gaps in employment, including where to explain gaps in your work history as well as a list of good explanations and resume writing tips based on new trends. Read on!

What are Employment Gaps?

Employment gaps are periods of time in your professional career when you haven’t had a formal job. A job gap can last anywhere from a few months to several years, and can be deliberately or unwillingly created. If you don’t explain the reason for your absence in employment and the experience you earned during that period, employment gaps on a resume might be a source of concern.

Let’s face it: A hiatus in employment is a tricky situation, and explaining your resume gap in your interview is enough to make anybody sweat; whether you took time off to care for a family member or were unemployed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be that way to explain your resume experience gap. If you approach the subject correctly, you can convert a generally unpleasant issue into a far more useful discussion about what you have learned from your job search and how you might be a more successful worker in your current position.

Good Reasons for Employment Gaps

Many professionals will want or need to take a career break at some point in their lives. After experiencing burnout, many people go on a work hiatus to spend time with their children or caring for an older family member. Other times, it’s to travel, re- or upskill at university, or pursue a passion project. Those who want to return to full-time or permanent employment, on the other hand, are concerned about how the gap will appear on their resume and whether or not they will be employed.

If you’re in a position to plan your employment gap, be sure you know why you’re taking a break from full-time work and what you want to accomplish while you’re gone.

The following are some frequent examples:

  • I want to spend as much time as possible with my children while they are still young.
  • By traveling, I aim to expand my horizons and assess my life objectives.
  • I’d like to learn a specialized talent.
  • Working on my passion project is something I’m looking forward to doing in the next few weeks.
Remote Job Search

Where to Explain Employment Gaps

For example, consider the following: “What have you been doing for the last three years?” The most important thing is to come up with a comfortable response. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go into too much detail. You can address employment gaps in cover letters.

Use your cover letter to fill in any gaps in your resume that you may have in your career history. Below are a few examples.

1. In years, write down the dates of your job.

List only the start and finish years, not the months or days, in the “job experience” part of your CV. You’ll have fewer issues to explain away as a result of this.

2. Mention any gaps that aren’t linked to your family.

Address the glaring holes that you’re comfortable mentioning in your cover letter explicitly. This brave move demonstrates your desire to explore new things and accept chances.

3. Your mid-career professional changes should be highlighted.

Build your cover letter around this narrative if your employment gaps occurred when you decided to change career paths. Explain why you made the decision you did. Outline the steps that will take you from one field to the next.

4. Emphasize any unpaid work experience.

If you took on an unpaid internship or volunteered for a position that allowed you to develop important skills or get industry knowledge, these opportunities should be listed on your resume work history. On your resume, describe your function and highlight your key contributions and successes as if you were applying for a paid job.

Related Post: 5 Tips for a Successful Career Change

How to Explain Gaps in Employment on Your Resume

How should job hopefuls, especially those who are jobless right now, handle possible resume gaps and avoid them in the future?

The work market today is changing at full speed. Rapid innovation implies that new sectors emerge every year; which require job applicants who can swiftly learn, adapt, and tailor their experience to new jobs. Furthermore, early to mid-career professionals are increasingly discovering that there are several paths in which they might pursue their careers, with little assurance as to which path to choose. So how can you gear your resume toward your new goal while explaining employment gaps? Here’s how:

Man Using Computer To Explain Employment Gaps On His Cover Letter

1. Remove work experience.

In certain cases, it’s advisable to leave full-time jobs with extremely short tenures off your CV entirely. If you had a full-time work that lasted less than three months, you should eliminate it from your resume employment history. If you don’t want to remove the work experience entirely, you can mention it briefly in the cover letter.

2. Make a point by highlighting what you can contribute to the company.

While it is critical to address your employment gap in a clear and positive manner, it is also critical to demonstrate the value you can provide as a possible employee. Describe your total experience while focusing on the aspects that are pertinent to the job you’re looking for. Include examples of your previous accomplishments to show how your skillset might assist potential employers in achieving their goals.

Related Posts: 8 Essential Job Skills to Include in Your Resume and Top Skills That You Need to Include in Your Resume

3. When writing about why you quit your work, keep it positive.

“I didn’t like my former employer” explanations are not good. Even if it’s simpler to locate a new job when you’re already working, hiring managers may inquire why you didn’t wait to find a new job before quitting your previous one.

4. Make sure to highlight any actions you took to better your professional status during the time you were away.

Make a point of mentioning any credentials or courses you’ve taken during the time you’ve been away. Any job you’ve done as a consultant, freelancer, or contract worker. Meanwhile, new companies will want to know what kind of consulting job you completed. Volunteering or large personal endeavors, for example, are examples of beneficial experiences.

How to Explain Gaps in Employment During a Job Interview

The key to explaining the employment gap is to recognize which ones you should speak a white lie about and which ones you should keep a secret. Then you have to be honest and confident in your response.

1. You must appear to be a highly sought-after job candidate.

Rather than accepting the first job you find, you should sound like you’re being selective and focused on finding the greatest match for the long term if you’re explaining a current work gap. If your job gap is due to illness, travel, or the illness of a family member; it’s acceptable to state that you haven’t had any interviews.

2. Mention how the timing is right to apply for a job.

Explain why you’ve decided to re-enter the workforce now rather than a year from now if you left your job without a clear timeline. Again, be succinct and don’t feel obligated to defend your choice. Simply inform the hiring manager that you’ve completed the tasks you needed to do during your time off and are now ready to return to work.

3. Tell the recruiters your story.

Without some planning ahead of time, you won’t be able to communicate your narrative successfully. Be honest with yourself: What drove you to change jobs? It is preferable to jot down your replies first and ponder on them alone. Some job changes are simple to explain, and there are numerous reasons to leave a job. For example, you could have invested in a scrappy company with the goal of disrupting the market, only to have it run out of money ten months later.

Applicants Waiting In Line For Job Interview

Close Employment Gaps with an Updated and Concise Resume

As the workforce evolves, experienced hiring managers understand that concrete talents are developed through a combination of long-term job experience, self-education, side projects, and freelance employment. You have complete choice over how you present your background to potential employers as part of your personal narrative.

Your dynamic experience will be recognized as an asset if you are confident in the value you can provide to others. Do you need assistance in acing your next interview? Make fresh beginnings a source of motivation for you. If you are unable to write your own resume, consider using our professional resume writing service.

Paul Entwistle

Paul Entwistle

Paul Entwistle is RPW’s resident copy editor, a post he has held since 2003. A self-styled critic of the contemporary scene, Paul also moonlights as copy editor for a few publications and memoirs. A widower raising a Pomeranian and British Shorthair, he currently resides in Palo Alto.
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