How to Address Career Gaps in Your Resume

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Having career gaps in a resume can make a person question their employability. Many people think employers won’t even dare to acknowledge their application documents. But not having gainful employment shouldn’t be a dealbreaker, as many companies are pretty understanding.

So present your career gap on your resume in a way that shows transparency and genuine interest for the role. Hiring managers may actually consider you because of your honesty.

Don’t think you’re the only one who has taken a career break because 59% or 3 in 5 Americans have been laid off or had a gap in their career. Thus, to have a confidence boost despite your career gaps, start learning how to create a narrative of your employment history.

What are career gaps?

The meaning of a career gap is the amount of time you spend unemployed or in between roles, which is either voluntary or due to uncontrollable events. This can mean either planned or unplanned or somewhere in between.

Career gaps are usually more than 6 months. Fortunately, the stigma around employment breaks is slowly fading away. Recruiters no longer see career gaps in resumes as red flags since 79% of hiring mangers would still hire a candidate despite the gap in their careers. So instead of feeling embarrassed, use the time between work to focus on your long-term goals and gain necessary skills to get back on track of your career development.

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What are the types of career gaps?

People have career gaps for many reasons. Some are exciting, while others may be unexpected. Whatever your grounds for taking career breaks, don’t let external pressure rattle you. You don’t need to constantly explain your time off to others, even if you’re not actively searching for a job.

1. You went away to travel

Whether you want to experience the world after graduation or between jobs is a normal reason for a career gap. In fact, some employers may hire you because of it, since it shows that you have a well-rounded outlook in life.

After soaking yourself in various cultures, that experience alone enables you to deal with unexpected situations which can be valuable in the work environment.

2. You focused on school or upskilling

This type of career break is something that you can leverage on your resume. Recruiters want to have the best of the best to be a part of their company. So focusing on school and improving your skills guarantees that your abilities aren’t out of date. This development opportunity will even help you land a better, more satisfying role in the long run.

3. You had a baby

Having a baby can be the most exciting yet busy time of your life. That is why it’s only understandable to have a career gap because of this reason. But it shouldn’t stop you from applying for work as companies still welcome people after having maternity or paternity leave.

4. You had an illness

Companies are realizing that more and more people are prioritizing their health over their jobs. So they’re becoming empathetic to applicants who have illness as an excuse for their employment break.

5. You cared for a relative with an illness

Family always comes first. That’s why 15% of workers’ excuse for having career gaps is to care for a sick member of the family or friend.

6. You were laid off or terminated

Being terminated can affect your morale. In the past year alone, 40% of Americans were laid off. But at the same time, job seekers find it easier to find work than it was before the virus outbreak.

Having career gaps is explainable, and some recruiters are quite considerate as long as you can spell out your reasons truthfully.

How to explain career gaps in an interview

It’s essential to stay empowered even though you have a gap in your resume. You can still land a desirable job only if you can create a candid story for it. So here are 4 ways to help you explain your career gap during your interview:

1. Prepare an explanation ahead of time

Even if your resume and cover letter already addresses your employment history, employers will still ask you questions about your career gap. So whether you’re changing careers or eyeing the same role, it’s important to work up an explanation of your employment gap beforehand.

Write down the possible answers to those questions and pick out the best one. Think about what your hiring managers want to know. So cut the fluff and start with the bottom line rather than beating around the bush. Then practice your pitch in front of a mirror or with a friend to avoid cold feet.

2. Turn your career gap into something positive

Remember that there’s nothing wrong with having career gaps on your resume. So turn this break in your profession into a positive one. If you took time off to work on your development goals or attended a volunteer work, put them on the spotlight. Discuss how this experience can benefit the company.

Regardless of the time away from your career to care for your relative or go back to school, tell your potential employer what you learned about yourself.

Career gaps are a learning experience because the lessons you learned along the way can give you a fresh perspective and knacks to bring to the table.

3. Tailor it to the position you’re applying for

Customize your experience and accomplishments to the job you want to apply for. Make use of anything that you think is suitable for the role to make a good impression, since linking your skills to the job description can help you land the job.

Here’s an example: You had to take a break from work because you had to care for a family member. So you had to schedule doctor’s appointments and manage their business for them. If you’re applying for a job in the business sector, highlight how the experience strengthened your business skills and boosted your confidence in the field.

4. Be honest and confident

The thought of having a lot of time where you didn’t work is hard to process. So rather than being ashamed of your career gap, own it because recruiters like to listen to confident candidates during an interview. They want to hear about your realizations and relevant skills gained following the experience.

Keep the conversation straightforward, but don’t oversell yourself by explaining the technical stuff around the role you’re applying for. Instead, focus on your soft skills and your grit to nail your job interview.

Career Gaps Woman In Office Light Brown Blazer

Examples of explanations for career gaps

Many people have different reasons for being unemployed. But you can address career gaps without explaining them in detail because most employers know them already. So to prepare yourself beforehand, go over these employment break explanations:

1. You went away to travel

You can add value to your resume from your travel experience by detailing how it enhanced your personal development and cultural awareness. But make it clear that you’re ready to settle down to work.

2. You focused on school or upskilling

You can easily explain going back to school during your job interview as it shows that you dedicated your break to upskill your talents. So showcase the skills you have enhanced in the course of your career gap.

3. You had a baby

Having a baby takes up a lot of your time, so explain to your hiring managers that you took time off to heal and prioritize your family. But elaborate on how excited you are to hop back to work. Clarify that you’re ready for a brand you chapter in life, that you want to provide and look after your family by treating your role seriously.

4. You had an illness

If the break is because you have had an injury or an illness, it’s best to reassure your employer that you have fully recovered. There’s no need to explain this further because you’re not legally required to do so.

5. You cared for a relative with an illness

If the reason for your unemployment gap is to care for a relative or a friend, it’s advisable to keep a short description. You can include transferable skills that are related to your career of choice, such as, medication management, appointment setting, coordinating in-home therapies, etc.

6. You were laid off or terminated

Instead of talking badly about the company or why you disliked your previous role, discuss your projects, achievements and engaging performance. Then use bullet points to highlight them. If you got laid off because of the pandemic or something, state it briefly, but keep it positive.

Skill Success helps you fill career gaps

Skill Success is an eLearning platform that can support you with your career gaps. With over 3,000 online video courses, you can guarantee to fill your time, educating yourself, and building the necessary skills to achieve your professional goals. Whatever your career or personal goals are, Skill Success has a diversity of topics that can satisfy your yearning for knowledge.

There’s nothing wrong with career gaps

Don’t shy away from explaining career gaps in your resume because employers might think that you’re hiding something from them. So don’t let them second-guess your capabilities. Instead, own up to it and stay positive.

Even if you have years of career gap, don’t worry about it. Just be mindful of the things you say during your job interviews that may hurt your hiring chances.

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