“I have a gap in my employment history, how should I handle this?”
We receive many questions on how to handle employment gaps. There are many reasons for taking a break in employment. Some of the common reasons are: travel, childcare, elder care, school and so on.
It is important to be prepared to address any employment gaps both in your application and interview. This means you should explain to the hiring manager what you did in that time you took off from work. And it would be a bonus if you can explain how what you did in this time has helped prepare you for the role that you are applying for.
Most employers are concerned about employment gaps only if it suggests a lack of motivation, employability and so forth. So whether you left the workforce to start a family, go back to school or be a competitive athlete explain this. You can do this either in your in your cover letter, resume, and job interview.
If you don’t address this gap in employment, the employer is left to come to their own conclusions. Unfortunately most people assume the worst in the absence of information or when facing the unknown. Thus, whatever you do don’t lie or misrepresent by omission. Failure to explain gaps and misrepresentations can create doubt in the integrity of your application. You can also be terminated if you are hired under false pretense. Depending on your field, the hiring circle can be very small so be honest in your application.
What if your gap is related to a disability or illness? Again the same points apply here. Be honest and address it upfront, don’t give the employer an opportunity to be suspicious. You can frame the gap positively by explaining that you took the time to nurture positive traits and skills like perseverance, teamwork, patience, in your effort to over come or manage your disability.
Lastly, a good strategy to strengthen your application is to volunteer. It is a well known fact that you are most employable when you are currently employed (ironic). Volunteering can have the same effect, since it shows the employer that you are socially responsible, well-rounded, responsible and so forth. For further resources on how volunteering can help your job search see our post.