Employment gaps in your resume- explained in 6 easy steps

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While creating a visual image of your career history in an interview, a gap in employment disrupts this process. There might be many reasons for an employment gap. Layoffs, downsizing, inability to find a job quickly, taking a baby break, bad reference, health, family and many more. It is not unrealistic.

So, first, stop being intimidated about the gap. You are interviewed by a person, who can understand the struggles that everyone goes through while finding life-career balance. However, what holds importance is the fact that you haven’t given up and effectively used the time to upskill yourself. Whether you are truly committed to your career goals is what interests the interviewer more than the reason for the gap.

Now that you chose to apply to for jobs, justifying the gap is apparently a challenging aspect in an interview. Especially when it hasn’t been as productive as you thought it would be. There are some things you can consider before you prepare your answer.

Employment gaps

Be prepared:

Rather than stammering in the interview room, always go to the interview prepared and decide in advance, what you intend to answer. This makes you sound more confident.

Be honest:

Now there is a fine line between being honest and choosing to reveal everything. Too much information (personal/private), does not help improve your candidacy but might possibly distort your chances of being considered for the next round of interview. Apply the ‘relevance’ principle when you are being honest. Disclosing irrelevant, unimportant and unnecessary information and facts isn’t going to help you evolve out of the situation. Be honest, but to the point.

Explain the reason:

Give the reason you were let go off your previous company/ or if you chose to give it a break. In any case, there is no need to be secretive or manipulative. 

Voluntary gap:

If you left the job voluntarily, for family, health, and other reasons, mention it. It is easily acceptable when there is a clear purpose to the gap.

Downsizing/ recession: However, if you were fired or were let go due to other reasons, like downsizing, recession, justify fairly, play it safe. Remember HR professionals can detect it easily, when you distort the facts. Just give a plain reason without being defensive. Maintain your composure and of course a smile on the face.

Fired? Poor performance: If you were fired because of not meeting the performance standards, then

  • Discuss the situation
  • Explain what you learned and
  • Assure, how you wouldn’t let that happen again.

Poor performance can be due to “right person being in the wrong job” or “wrong person being in the right job” mention it whatever the case may be.

Additionally, as listed on Job Hunt, acceptable reasons for leaving a company are L.A.M.P.S,

L – Location – Long commute, A- Advancement – No opportunities for career growth,M- Money – Underpaid f or your skills, P- Prestige – Associating with a better company, S- Security –  Job security and company’s stability.

Prepare for further probing:

Sometimes if the interviewer is not quite convinced with your reason, they probe more. This is to understand if the potential employee is honest and has a legitimate sense of purpose in what he/she does. So, think of possible questions that may arise and prepare to answer in detail, when asked.

Show the positive side:

Bad mouthing your previous company, or defaming your ex-boss/colleagues will place you in the bad spot. Even if you’ve had challenges in the job, do not put forth your opinion about someone in particular. Show the positive side. Mention the good things you learnt and that you chose to move on, to get exposed to other work environments.

Fill the gap:

A long inexplicable gap raises questions about your career interests and ambitions. While looking out for opportunities to work, mention that you have also been developing skills in an area, or involved in some work. It is important to know that you haven’t stopped learning. Being productive explains the fact that you are a career-oriented person, who cares enough to stay updated and relevant in the field. If you haven’t learnt anything new, in this gap period, chances are that you may not be taken seriously. Engage yourself in an activity that helps in upgrading your skills necessary to get back to employment.

Red flags:

Beware that none of your verbal or non-verbal expressions make the following qualities very evident in you.

Employment gaps

Laziness:

Do not make it appear as if you are sluggish. If you haven’t searched for opportunities within your scope, applied for a job, or haven’t learnt anything new, it implies that you are comfortable with your situation. You haven’t made any efforts to come out of it.

Negativity:

In any form, do not blame or speak negatively about anything or anyone, even if you feel you lost your job to them/that. Demonstrate that you are optimistic and that you are not caught up with petty matters.

Market:

Your inability to find a job should not be imposed on the situation in the job market unless there is an obvious recession. Never say” The job market” isn’t well. The fact that you are attending a job interview itself proves your statement wrong.

Cease to learn:

Most important of all, is, to show that you haven’t ceased learning during this career downtime. There are many free online courses, startup companies, voluntary purposes you can associate with to learn new things.

 

An interview is intended to know what kind of a person you are, importantly, your professional traits. It is not just limited to discussing what is obviously written in a resume. Dressing up things is a lot different from making things up completely. So, remember to keep it clean and composed.  

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