Gaps On Your Resume? 4 Steps to Explain Them Without Breaking a Sweat

Elaine M.
Elaine M.
Oct 14, 2020 · 3 min read

Many people will experience a gap in their resume at some point or other. Long gone are the days of spending your entire career (or even a significant chunk of it) with one employer. Gaps are a common feature in most people’s career trajectory for a variety of reasons — whether it’s for a few months or a few years.

And with the current pandemic impacting every single industry, it’s going to be even more common in the years ahead.

Life happens. It might feel awkward having a gap on your resume, but you’re not alone. The good news is, many employers know and understand this. A gap is no longer the ‘big deal’ it used to be — as long as you explain why it’s there positively.

Here are four ways to do that:

Prepare Your Answer

The best way to positively talk about any gap in your resume is to assume you’ll be asked about it and spend some time preparing your answer.

Time out of the workforce can often make us feel less competitive and defensive about our reasons for taking time off. Spend some time thinking about why you were out of work, how long for, and what you did with that time — what did you learn and how will it benefit you in this role?

Keep answers concise and confident.

Just Be Honest

Employers will question longer gaps because they want to make sure you’re committed to the work now — if you’ve taken time our for medical reasons or perhaps to parent, they’re seeking reassurance you can do the job and are ready to be back at work.

This is your chance to demonstrate your professional honesty. Make sure answers don’t come across as ‘confessional’ but focus on confidently reassuring the employer you’re ready, motivated and committed to taking on the job at hand.

Put a Professional Spin On It

Think about any transferable skills you may have developed. If you took time out following redundancy to travel, share what you’ve learnt and how travelling has helped you improve as a professional (through time management, organisation or adaptability, for example).

If you were let go, make sure you don’t bad-mouth your last employer. Stay positive and talk about what you’ve gained from the experience, not what you’ve lost.

Don’t Panic

Remember — the employer isn’t seeking to catch you out, they’re just curious. Don’t get defensive or anxious if asked about a gap in your resume.

Bring the focus back to why you’re in the room and what makes you the ideal candidate. You don’t have to go into in-depth detail during the interview if the gap was for personal reasons. Advise the employer you took time out for personal/family reasons, and it allowed you to refocus on what you’re looking for now in your career. Then launch into how that led you to apply for the job you’re interviewing for and the unique skills you have for the role.

Speaking as someone who’s sat on interview panels numerous times and observed how candidates responded to being asked about employment gaps, I can assure you it’s those who don’t treat the gap as an ‘issue’ that, in turn, reassures all of us in the room that it isn’t.

If you’ve got a gap on your resume, don’t let it hold you back.

Stay positive and forge ahead!

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Elaine M.

Written by

Elaine M.

Writer etc | Psychologist-in-Training | Careers Coach Veteran | Covering: Careers with Purpose, Positive Psychology + Creative Living without the BS

Curated Careers

What does fulfilling work really mean? How do you really ‘find your passion’? Curated Careers aims to answer some of the big questions around how to create and curate a career you love.

Elaine M.

Written by

Elaine M.

Writer etc | Psychologist-in-Training | Careers Coach Veteran | Covering: Careers with Purpose, Positive Psychology + Creative Living without the BS

Curated Careers

What does fulfilling work really mean? How do you really ‘find your passion’? Curated Careers aims to answer some of the big questions around how to create and curate a career you love.

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