There are dozens of reasons you may have gaps in employment. In the past you may have felt that employers would see the gaps and automatically attach a red flag to your resume but that is not necessarily the case. If you know how to explain the gaps, employers will appreciate your honesty and the gaps will not hinder your search.
Whether you took some time to travel the world, raise a family, or were furloughed from your last job, there are three areas to focus on when it comes to explaining these gaps.
Be Positive, Honest and Proactive
The first step that you need to take before explaining a gap is to step back and think about the positive lessons you learned during the time you were not employed. If you took time off to travel, how has that experience changed you as a person. Also, how can these positive changes benefit a future employer?
If the circumstances surrounding your gap are generally thought to be negative, like quitting without having another job lined up, be 100% honest and proactive to address any concerns. Explain what you learned and achieved in the role you left, what you are looking for in your next job, and why that led you to apply to this job.
In your effort to be open, honest, and transparent it is easy to fall into the trap of sharing too many details. Think of all the times in your personal relationships where you reacted to a friend’s story with “TMI” (too much information) and keep this in mind when explaining gaps in your resume. If you took a year to travel the world because you were lost and not quite sure what to do after college, focus the conversation more on what you learned while traveling that helped you grow as a person and less on why you were lost and decided to make the journey.
Related the Skills You Leaned to the Job
While you may have learned to drive on the opposite side of the road during your year in Europe, it likely isn't applicable to the job you're applying for. However, be sure to mention any volunteer work, classes, or certifications you completed during your employment gap.
If none of those options are relevant, did you gain any new soft skills? Communication, adaptability, problem solving, and critical observation are all soft skills that may be relevant to the job you are applying to. Offer concrete examples and situations that show how you learned to better communicate or how you became more comfortable adapting to unexpected situations.
Trust us when we say that if your resume has a gap, it is not the first one the employer has seen. If your skills, personality, and work ethic are a fit for the position you are applying to, don’t let a gap in employment hold you back. Be proactive and share with prospective employers the positive aspects of the gap and how it has shaped you to become a better person.