Here’s How to Handle an Employment Gap

If you have recently had an employment gap and been out of the workforce for some time (even extended time) you are not alone. Many workers were not working due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • Homeschooled or took care of children
  • Cared for elderly parents or ill family
  • Were afraid to work for fear of bringing home sickness to family members
  • Lost a job
  • Lost means of transportation
  • Tended to personal health issues
  • Traveled at length
  • Pursued personal projects
  • Trained for a different career
  • Completed schooling
  • Simply waited for the right job
  • or merely took a break

Explaining an employment gap

Now you are seeking a job, but you must be well prepared to explain holes in your work history.

But how do you address an employment gap on your resume?

Fill the Employment Gap on Your Resume

Once a resume screener sees you have a job gap, they will wonder why. Once they know why, they want to judge if it will happen again. Give them reasons to believe you’re now prepared to fill the gap. For example, if you have children, explain that you now have childcare or that your homeschooled kids are learning in school which is open. If you were laid off, explain the conditions of your job loss as simply as possible.  Don’t make negative comments about your ex-employer. The point you want to make is that you’re ready and motivated to work and to commit to a new employer.

Remember that it’s the candidate screener’s job to find knowledgeable, talented, and reliable candidates. Studies reveal three-fourths of managers have made a bad hire and nearly two-thirds indicate the negative impact is more severe now than a year ago.  The cost of a bad hire is a risk they want to avoid They can avoid the risk of recruiting someone lacking industry knowledge or with minimal work ethic by bypassing applicants with unexplained resume gaps.

So, they are cautious of job applicants with unexplained resume gaps. Hiring managers feel more secure hiring applicants with constant, long-tenure job histories without employment gaps Hiring managers also feel safer hiring candidates with continuous, gapless, long-tenure career histories.

Yet don’t be discouraged.

Just remember what they’re looking for when you decide how to explain gaps in employment.  Employers look at gaps and say to themselves, ‘ you [candidate] seem unlikely to stay here for more than 12 months. I should keep looking for someone who’s more stable.”

Still, having employment gaps on your resume isn’t as bad as many job seekers think it is. Employers understand that there are many justifiable reasons why you might have gaps in your work history. If you can reasonably explain your gaps, employers are unlikely to hold them against you.

Here’s 4 quick tips or explaining employment gaps on your resume:

1.Use your resume summary to briefly explain why you weren’t working during the gap.  To ensure hiring managers understand that your employment gap is a direct result of COVID-19, you may want to include a brief note on your resume or cover letter                explaining that. That should help hiring managers rapidly see why you were/are out of work and may also prevent them from dismissing your resume due to an employment gap. How to Explain Employment Gaps Due to COVID-19 | Indeed.com

  1. Highlight independent projects or volunteer experience you worked on during that time gap.
  2. Explain what you learned or gained during your employment gap.
  3. Provide a convincing cover letter that explains your situation.
How to Fill in Employment Gaps on A Resume If You Still Are Currently Out of Work

If you are currently out of work and are looking for ways to fill your employment gaps, consider some of the options below.

  • Find contract or temp work
  • Start a part-time job in your industry
  • Become a volunteer
  • Get more training

Never be inactive when you are out of work! You should always be moving forward and trying to make a difference in your job or career.

If you have a gap in your resume, you can almost be sure that it will come up during a job interview. There are many reasons why you could decide to take a break from working. Therefore, no matter what the specific reason is, you should be able to respond to questions when asked about it during an interview.

Practice Before You Go to the Job Interview

One way to convince a potential employer that you’ll make them a good employee is to walk into your interview with confidence. The way to do that is to know what to answer to any questions recruiters will ask. Practice your interview skills with a friend or career advisor during a practice interview. Address that employment gap in your mock interview and you’ll be ready for the real thing.

The interviewer is interested in knowing why you were unemployed for some extended time because employment gaps could be a warning sign or a red flag. It’s up to you to think of your reasons prior to the interview so that you fully utilize this opportunity to explain what happened and that you’re ready to move forward. If the interviewers decide to proceed with you in the hiring process, they need more information to make sure that they will not regret it.

For the interviewer, two things are important. First, the timeframe in which you were not employed. Second, how long you have been away from the workforce. For instance, if you had been unemployed for 6 weeks 5 years ago, likely the recruiter won’t worry about it. But, if your unemployment gap was more recent and for a longer period, you need a reasonable explanation that shows it wasn’t due to lack of motivation.

Explaining gaps in employment at your job interview

Honesty

There’s no reason to try to hide gaps when they are visible on your resume. Every person generally must deal with employment gaps, so don’t worry too much about it. If you, for instance, experienced a merger with your company and there were layoffs, just explain this. Don’t worry about a gap of a couple of months to half a year. Explain the gap and the reason for it.

Rationale

If you have an employment gap of over a year, it’s important to substantiate why, but also indicate that you have been busy that year. For example, you can tell the interviewer that you did temporary, seasonal, or volunteer work while still spending time looking for jobs. Also, explain that you remained active and kept your skillset sharp. Ensure that you have a polished version of what kept you busy and engaged during that gap.

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Give a concise and brief description of the situation. There’s no need to include too many personal details; the interviewers are more interested in the main facts about the reasons for unemployment.

Put it Behind You

Just like the explanation of the situation is important; it’s essential to explain that the situation ended or that it’s not a factor anymore. You need to emphasize this to ensure that the interviewer is not worried about if you need to take another break from working (for whatever reason) anytime soon. Basically, they want to hear that you’re 100% available and committed if they hire you.

Positive Result

Always steer your answer towards a positive endnote in which you emphasize your interest in the position once more. Put the focus back on your job interview and the job you’re applying for.

Flexicrew Support

If you have a gap on your resume and want help to fill it with an expert recruiting service, contact Flexicrew today. And we’ll also teach you how to build a professional portfolio that could help you get hired.