More people than you might think have gaps in their employment history, whether they took time off to raise a child, care for a sick family member, experienced unemployment, or just needed some time off. If you have a gap in your work history, especially if it’s recent, you will need to address it at some point in the application process. While you might dread the inevitable question about your work gap, it doesn’t have to be a curve ball! Here’s how to prepare.
1. Don’t try to hide it
Some recruiting sites recommend using a date format on your resume that will “mask” the gap in your work history. For example, you might list the dates for your last two work entries as “2016-2018” and “2019-present” to hide a long-term work gap (anything longer that six months). As Tom Gerencer writes for Zety, “Do assume the employer will find out about the gap through a basic employment check…Just writing years in your work experience without months comes off as, well, trying to hide stuff.”
If there’s a gap you want to explain on your resume, you can definitely note it. For example, if you have a job gap of a couple of years, you can include, “2018-2020: Cared for my ailing parent and was unable to work.” If you include a brief note, recruiters won’t have to speculate.
2. Highlight the skills you gained while taking time off.
If you are asked to explain a gap in your resume, you definitely want to be succinct. While you don’t need to give every gritty detail, provide the facts of the situation and perhaps a couple of takeaways from your experience. Were you caring for a sick family member? Managing a household? Chances are, you picked up some new skills. How might these skills be a good asset? From there, you can easily transition back to discussing the job without any awkward pauses.
3. Reassure your interviewer that this isn’t a pattern
It’s important to reassure recruiters that your job gap doesn’t reflect a pattern, especially if your last position only lasted for a few months. Since recruiters are making an investment in you, they want to see that you will stick around.
If you have a significant gap in your employment history and are looking for a job, call Staffers! We specialize in temporary, temp-to-perm and direct hire opportunities for office administration and clerical positions and can help introduce you to decision makers.