One of the most fearsome experiences for anyone who is looking for a new direction in their career, is an interview. The interview process is supposed to give you a chance to meet with a potential employer, get to know what their company does and give you an idea of how you can make their business better. It’s also a time where you can feel like you are being grilled, put under the microscope or interrogated. Of course, not every interview goes that way, but you still have to explain your employment history, your education and any gaps in your employment that are on that resume you’ve submitted.
You could be tempted to edit out any gaps in your employment, but any decent HR manager who is doing all the hiring will ask you about each spell of employment that you’ve had, including the dates. A resume that is full of breaks and inconsistencies is not one that is going to scream ‘hire me’, so you have to write your resume so that you look attractive to your prospective employer. All the breaks you may have had have to add up so that you can promote your honesty from the get-go. If you lie about the gaps on your resume, you could get caught out and be instantly rejected for a position that you clearly want. Even if you haven’t got any hidden secrets, employers can still be easily put off, which can make it hard for you to find work. There are many reasons that you have had time off work, and none of them should embarrass you, and we’ve put together how to explain each gap.
Illness. There’s nothing wrong with taking time off for being ill, but explaining the gap in your resume can be tricky. If you had an injury at a past place of employment, there could be legal tie ups going on with a personal injury attorney and you would have to explain what happened at your last job, why you left and how much more time you need to recover. This can lead to a whole conversation about a burned bridge with a previous employer, which is something to avoid during a job interview. The thing to focus on here is the fact you are ready to come back to work and you want to start afresh in a new company that can offer you the progression you crave.
Termination. No one likes to be fired, do they? Employers are not likely to blame you if you had to have some time off between jobs if you have been terminated, but they are likely to want to know the reasons surrounding the termination. Keep the focus on what you did during your break in employment and how you managed to keep learning and developing yourself despite having some time off work.
Travelling. Not every gap in employment is there for a bad reason. Taking the time out of your working life to travel isn’t a bad thing, at all! You can put a hugely positive spin on this gap in your resume, because you can talk about the experiences you had, the destinations you visited and what you learned as a person to help you grow further. It also means you got the travel bug out of your system and are far more likely to be a reliable and steady employee.
Caring For Family. Whether you had a sick relative to cope with for a while, or you took time off to have a baby, you can talk about the fact you had to care for someone for a period of time. Make sure that you focus on the fact that children are now in full time childcare or education, or your relative is now well enough to be cared for by someone else. This will reassure them that you aren’t about to go dashing off during the work day to see to other commitments with family. While it’s not a bad thing to have children or family commitments, it’s not going to be favourable to be flying off the working day regularly.
Any interview that you have will likely touch on the fact that you have had breaks in your career, so you need to be prepared to discuss these when you go into your interview. Sometimes, you have to prepare yourself for awkward questions, but as long as you are armed with the right responses and great references, you will be fine!