This is how you explain gaps on your resume
Got some dead spots on your resume? Don’t worry. We’ll help you convince an interviewer you deserve a shot at the job despite the gaps.
Even the phrase is scary, calling to mind yawning chasms void of all light and sound—and any hope for a new job.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you took six months off to go BASE jumping in the Himalayas, stopped working when a kid was born, or needed to leave the workforce to care for an ailing relative, there’s always a way to spin things positively, says Nicole Williams, a career expert and author of Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success.
“You may have taken time off to take courses, freelance or travel—all of which can make you a better candidate for the job,” Williams told Monster in a previous article. Even if you had to exit the workforce for personal reasons, even if you were laid off or fired, you can if you go into your interview with the right mindset (and a few carefully prepared answers), you’ll still have every chance to come off as the great candidate that you are.
Monster’s got the advice you need to bridge the gaps with your interviewers.
You might have been hoping that the folks interviewing you would take a quick look at your resume and completely miss the fact that you didn’t work for two years—but, we’re sorry to report, that’s not going to happen.
“Interviewers will want to know why there is a gap in your job history and what, if anything, you did during that time,” says Williams. “When applying for a job, acknowledge the gap in your job history in your cover letter and briefly explain the reasons for the period of unemployment.”
Even if you feel awkward about your resume gap, trust us—shedding light on the situation will be better than simply leaving it to an employer’s imagination.
This is a big one. Lying about your resume gap is a really, really bad idea.
Employers can easily verify your career history, and lying about it can be grounds for dismissal if you do manage to get the job. You don’t want that hanging over your head.
Don’t try to fake the dates on your resume to fill the time you weren’t working. Even if you were fired from your last job, you need to say as much.
“Unemployment happens,” says Williams. “Being honest about your situation gives the employer a sense of your integrity and confidence—two characteristics every employer is looking for.”
No matter the reason for your resume gap—whether it’s getting fired, laid off, or even the aforementioned BASE jumping scenario—you can almost always find some value in it. Whether it’s a stretch of freelancing experience, a handful of new skills you picked up during your time off or a realization of what you’re really passionate about, there’s often a way to frame resume gaps as a period of personal and professional growth rather than just downtime.
Before you go to the interview, try to identify a few things you gained from your time away.
“Share your travels with your prospective employer,” says Williams. “At the very least, they may find comfort in knowing you’ve ‘been there, done that’ and won’t be taking off any time soon to travel the world again!”