Should You be Nervous About a Gap on Your Resume?

Work history gaps on resumes are more common than many people may think. If you have a few gaps on your resume, don’t’ let this make you nervous when headed for a job interview. Resume gaps can occur for various reasons, including: a serious illness, periods of unemployment, returning to school, starting and raising a family, and much more.

No matter the reason for your employment gap, be sure to have answers at the ready for your job interview. The company will absolutely ask about the gap. Here, we will provide you with some helpful information on how to handle dealing with a resume work history gap.

Be Open About the Gap

One of the first things you must do when addressing a gap on your resume is be open about it. When it comes to developing the resume we recommend not listing the reason specifically on the resume. For example, “Homemaker, or “Looking for a Job”. List all you legitimate work history as accurately as you can. If an employer asks why you have been out of work for three months or more, make sure you are open in your response. Do not feel like your privacy was invaded, and try not to become defensive or evasive. The perception should portray is that you have “nothing to hide.” Don’t leave decision makers guessing. You run the risk of allowing the company to draw their own conclusions, therefore could have a negative effect on your career future.

There is Such a Thing as “Too Much Information”

Yes, while we encourage job seekers to be open there is such a thing as “Too much Information” or TMI.  The best thing you can do when dealing with a resume gap is to explain it to the employer. There are only two main categories when it comes to not holding a job; you were relieved of your duties or you removed yourself from the job. Within those categories you find various reasons for being out of work. For example, in the relieved of your duties category, you were either fired or laid off. In the other category, you could be out of work because you went back to school, started a family, became ill or had to take care of family. It does not matter which category you fall into, just be sure to tell the employer why there is a gap.  If you were divorced, which caused you to relocate simply state you relocated to be closer to loved ones. Getting into the the details of the relationship and custody challenges are not necessary and not required. If you were let go and you felt it was due to a personality conflict, simply state that the organization felt that your personality and talent would be a better fit elsewhere and be positive about the fact that they freed your future.  If the employer starts to dig deeper, remain calm and find the positive spin on an uncomfortable or otherwise bad situation.

Discuss What You Did During Gap

Just because you were laid off, or took time off to find yourself, it doesn’t mean you should sit around the house all day. If you took courses, joined organizations, or traveled, be sure to talk about these experiences with the employer. The employer wants to know how you dealt with not working and what you did to better yourself while out of work.

Include Internships

Maybe you have a gap on your resume because you worked an internship in-between jobs. If this is the case, you don’t have a gap in your employment because internships are real work experience. Even if you feel the internship is unimportant to your career path, put it on your resume. They definitely count for work experience.

List Your Volunteer Work if Applicable

Say you’re a bookkeeper and while you were off of work you decided to help a friend’s business, or your local church. If the type of work is in line with your existing career path include it. Sometimes the things we do without pay tell an employer that you are reliable and not above helping others even if there isn’t something in it for you.  Perhaps you worked at your children’s school as a volunteer. If you’re an administrative professional this is a great indicator that you have patience, and work well in a fast paced environment. Down the road you could end up applying towards a company that caters to child development or families in crisis. That experience could boost your chances at getting the job over someone else.

Working Out of Career

Did you work a job outside of your career path to simply work? If so, this could explain a gap in employment on your resume. We recommend not including this job on your resume, but be sure to discuss it with the employer. Be sure to maintain a reference in this situation so that an employer can investigate the out of place job.

As you can see, there are a myriad of reasons why you might have a work history gap. Be sure you are honest with the employer, but do not reveal too much personal information when discussing employment gaps.

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