Explaining Gaps between Jobs

Job interview

You may find yourself needing to explain gaps in your job history in a job interview. Gaps often occur if a job ended suddenly, you were laid off, after taking time off after the birth of a child, experiencing an injury or continuing education. Learn how to tactfully mention these gaps without losing credibility and still get the job.

How to Explain Your Situation

Having a gap in your work history is not always a negative thing. It does not have to work against your chances of landing a job. If you have a good reason for the gap it can actually work in your favor. Many employers will look at the gap and think that you are being ambitious.

If the gap comes up in an interview, you will need to explain your situation. You can also add a blurb about the gap in a cover letter. This will give the employer an explanation of why a gap appears on your resume as well. You do not have to go into elaborate detail about the gap but simply mention why it is there and what you are doing to fill it in.

Use wording in your cover letter such as:

  • "During the period of 2000-2001, I decided to continue my education and finish my MBA. I took full-time classes and earned my degree."
  • "I took time off from work to complete my teaching certification. I was able to focus on my studies and obtain my certificate in 2010."
  • "I was not employed in my field 2001-2004 due to my service in the military. During this time, I gained valuable skills that I will be able to use in the work force."

Be prepared with an answer to why you have a gap in your job history at your job interview. Some positive explanations include:

  • "During my time off of work, I went backpacking through Europe. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and helped improve my international relations experience and gain appreciation for the arts and history."
  • "I decided to take off two years after having my child so I could focus on this critical development period. I wanted to focus on my child and not let it distract me from work. Now I am at a point in my life where I can focus on my career and am completely ready to be part of the work force."

There are many times that gaps are out of our control. If your place of employment suddenly closes or lays you off from the job, there is nothing that you could do to prevent this from happening. This can be understood and not held against you when seeking another position.

Add Other Activities

To give your resume a boost when a gap appears, there are several things you can do. You will want to put a positive spin on the gaps and elaborate on your situation.

You can make the best of the time between jobs but filling it in with activities such as:

  • Volunteering
  • Community service
  • Education
  • Consulting

You may even have a part-time job that is helping you get by until you are able to find something full-time. You will want to explain this as well. If you demonstrate that you are actively seeking employment and doing something to help improve your life, this will be seen as positive instead of a negative on your resume.

Many employers will not frown upon gaps if you are still doing something beneficial to help improve your life and situation. Do not simply show a gap on your resume with nothing constructive going on to fill it in.

Be sure to say at an interview what you did with your time while not employed. You can briefly mention this in the following ways:

  • "Since I was not employed full-time, I was able to put my skills to use by volunteering at the hospital. I helped bring meals to patients and assisted in activities."
  • "To gain experience while not working, I donated my time during tax season to help prepare taxes for the elderly. I gave my services free of charge and gained knowledge of tax preparation."

Be Honest

Just because there are gaps in your job history does not mean you will be viewed negatively. Be honest and reveal the gaps on your resume. Be sure to fill in your time between jobs with beneficial activities that will not only improve your life but your self-esteem as well.

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Explaining Gaps between Jobs