Having a gap on your resume is a bit scary. Maybe you left your previous job because you had to care for a sick relative. Or raise your kids. Or travel through Europe. Or maybe you simply had trouble finding a new job. Regardless of the reason, there are good ways to explain why you have an employment gap on your resume, so you don’t start sweating when the topic is brought up. Here are the best-kept secrets to explaining employment gaps on your resume.
Be Smart, Plan Ahead
As soon as you leave your job—or even before—start planning for your gap. Use your spare time to improve and develop some of your skills. Maybe you take a course or enroll in a workshop. You could take on some freelance work or pursue a project of your own. Even just reading an article and books relevant to your job and journaling about them can be a great way to keep your skills fresh and show you really took advantage of your time during your employment gap.
Prepare for the Question
No matter what, you can pretty much guarantee every hiring manager and interviewer will ask about that gap in your job history. You might even want to be proactive and briefly mention it in your cover letter. You don’t have to divulge every single personal detail surrounding the gap, but a brief, factual explanation is a lot better than leaving it up to the imagination of your interviewer. Highlight some of the benefits of your time away from a job, instead of dwelling on the reason.
Definitely do not lie about anything in your career. Employers can easily call references to verify your story, and if they catch you in a lie, you’ll be in far worse shape than if you had simply been honest from the start. If you were laid off, you can simply explain that your company was struggling or had to restructure. It happens all the time. If you were fired, again, it’s best to be honest. You don’t have to offer every nitty, gritty detail, but briefly tell the truth and own the situation.
Frame It With a Positive
Show that there was a good reason, or at least a purpose, behind your employment gap. Is there any more noble cause than caring for a loved one? Or staying home with your young children until they start school? Even if the real reason was that you hated your last job and couldn’t find another job, show that you used your time wisely—pursuing a passion or developing skills that are relevant to your career.