5 Tips for Explaining Gaps in Your Employment History

May 20th, 2020 by Staff

There’s a misconception that it’s a red flag to recruiters if they see breaks in employment on a résumé. Job seekers tend to assume that companies prefer candidates with work experience that seamlessly flows from one employer to the next; many people worry about how to explain common occurrences such as being laid off, quitting a bad job before having a new one, taking an extended family leave or experiencing a personal emergency that temporarily takes them out of the workforce.

However, recruiters are used to dealing with candidates in these situations and rarely is it a cause for concern. It isn’t the break in employment that hurts a candidate’s chances at landing their next job, it’s often how they choose to describe the situation that mistakenly creates a negative perception of their temperament or abilities.

If you find yourself conducting a job search while unemployed or needing to answer questions about a previous gap in your employment, here are five tips to help you comfortably discuss your time out of the workforce and cast it in the best possible light.

1. Assume that recruiters have good intentions

Asking about why you are currently looking for a new job or inquiring about a gap in the years on your résumé is a routine practice for recruiters. They aren’t trying to uncover hidden secrets; they are simply making sure they can answer any questions about your background that may be asked of them later.

Recruiters are selective and do want to find and assess the best talent for their company or client, but that doesn’t stop them from hoping you’ll turn out to be a good match. When you prove yourself to be a strong candidate it saves them time and relieves some of the pressure to keep searching. If a recruiter wants to have a screening call or video interview with you, assume that they are genuinely interested in your background and are hoping that you are a fit.

2. Leverage familiar narratives

Most of the reasons that people find themselves unemployed are extremely common and can be explained quickly because recruiters and hiring managers are already familiar with the narrative.

Some examples of the kind of career disruptions employers run into again and again are: if you were laid off because it was (fill in the blank year when the economy was terrible or something bad happened in your industry), if a new CEO (or another senior leader) came in and replaced your entire team, or if your company was acquired, merged with another or went out of business. Employers also understand disruptions that are more personal, such as if you took time off to be a full-time parent, if you tried to launch a start-up but decided it wasn’t for you, if you or another family member had some medical concerns that needed to be addressed, or if your spouse’s career required a relocation.

These are the easiest explanations to give about an employment gap so if any of these situations apply to you, make sure you are simply presenting the recruiter with what is already a known and valid reason to be out of work. Don’t go into any additional detail about your departure or time off unless asked because there is a good chance that using one of these descriptions will be enough to satisfy their curiosity.

3. Be honest, but keep it light and positive

While everything you say in an interview needs to be genuine and accurate, it is not the place to share your most vulnerable stories. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t know you well enough yet to see your career journey and to appreciate what you have endured and learned.


To finish reading the full article by Kourtney Whitehead, go to: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kourtneywhitehead/2020/05/11/5-tips-on-how-to-explain-gaps-in-your-employment-history/#3324786f7fb5