Why the Work Gaps? Top Five Rules to Explain
Gaps in employment are not unusual. However, it’s how you approach the topic in your next interview that makes them more or less acceptable. Here are our five top tips for explaining gaps in work history.
1. Be upfront and honest Employers are pretty understanding of breaks in employment—especially if there’s a good reason for it. Don’t try to conceal any gaps, or get flustered when asked about them. Just be as open and honest as possible.
2. But not too honest If you were fired or let go from your previous employer, give a reason with a positive spin. Although it didn’t work out for you in your last position, what did you learn? What makes you still a good candidate for rehire? A simple explanation could be: "the company was downsizing, and my position was eliminated," if you don’t want to go too in-depth.
3. Be tactful If you left your last position because the working conditions were terrible, remember not to bash your previous employer or boss. Seize this opportunity to show your professionalism—simply explain that it wasn’t a good fit, and you made the choice to move on. Be tactful, and give a reason or two why it wasn’t a good fit—you were looking for more growth opportunities, or more challenges, for example.
4. Focus on what you did do Show potential employers that you took time off from the nine-to-five grind to be productive in other ways. Volunteer, take some classes, or travel abroad—do something that makes you a well-rounded employee when you’re ready to work again. You can also include these achievements on your resume, and expand on them in-person.
5. Focus on what you learned Develop skills that will translate to your next position. It’s important to remember that you can learn a lot outside of the conventional working world. If you took time off to care for your family or to travel, you undoubtedly learned a whole host of new skills that you can’t necessarily get from sitting behind a desk. Discuss these skills when explaining time off—for example: organizational skills or how to handle high-pressure situations.
Everyone gets a little nervous going into an interview, especially when rejoining the workforce after a short (or long) hiatus. The key is to be confident in your abilities. With these few tips on explaining those pesky work gaps, you’ll bag a new job in no time.
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