How to Explain Gaps in Your Resume During an Interview

Updated: Feb 11

Have you ever been in-between jobs for a very long time that your resume clearly shows the gaps? This may have left you wondering how to explain gaps in your resume to a potential employer. Your fear is justified since many employers still see gaps in your resume as red flags.

To learn how to explain gaps in your resume adequately, you need to know what's okay to share.  Other reasons should remain unshared, or you can twist them a little. The essential thing in every situation is to be comfortable with your answer.

Here, we look at some of the reasons you might have gaps in your resume. Whether for professional or personal purposes, here are ideas on how to explain gaps in your resume.


1. Parenting Gaps


Raising children can take a lot of time and energy. If you took time from your career to look after kids, your resume might have a considerable time gap. If you’re looking forward to resuming work after years of parenting, here’s how to address this gap.

First, avoid being defensive. It’s reasonable for the interviewer to want to understand the gaps in your resume. Don’t assume they’re just biased against you.

Defensiveness will make your interviewer think there’ something you’re hiding. Be confident enough to explain that you decided to make your family a priority.

Don’t be apologetic or have a timid stance on the issue either. However, be ready to show your ability to return to work and excel at it. The interviewer will most likely appreciate your confidence and stance.


2. Your Previous Employer Let You Go


This can be a very hard gap to explain. Being let go is highly context-specific. As such, you need to take the time to create a narrative around the reason.

Keep in mind that most companies lay off employees they no longer deem necessary. Being let go by an employer doesn’t necessarily reflect on your character or performance as a person. If this reflects your situation, focus on the positives, especially on why the company had to take the measure.

Highlight your achievements in your previous role. This is to demonstrate that your performance didn’t contribute to the company’s decision.

Being laid off isn’t a death sentence, and in most cases, rational employers will understand such circumstances. Once you’re clear on the narrative, it may also help to offer a reference from your old employer. Remember that this isn’t time to speak badly about the circumstances that led to your dismissal.


3. Unemployment


It's not uncommon to have a resume gap because you couldn't find a job, despite making efforts. Sometimes, tight job markets will render many people unemployed. If the gap is too long, you interviewer may think there are negative reasons for it.

You can successfully explain an unemployment gap by starting from a position of being honest.  There are many reasons you could be unemployed, for example, being a new graduate or being laid off. Whatever the reason, be honest for as long as you didn’t leave under controversial circumstances.

Avoid expressing your frustrations to the interviewer, as you don’t want to come across as desperate. The most crucial thing during such circumstances is to remain as professional as possible.


4. You Took Time to Improve Your Skills


A variety of formal and informal skills training are common reasons for having gaps in your resume. However, if the skills you acquired during this time are relevant to the organization, the gap could make you an attractive candidate. One thing the interviewer may want to know is why you decided to gain more skills.

One explanation could be that you were in search of a more challenging position. The additional skills were to help you level up to a better employment opportunity. Explain what you learned and how that makes you the best candidate for the position.


5. Health Reasons


Being off work for health reasons is a very legitimate reason for a resume gap. You might not explain all the details, but assure the interviewer you’re in good shape to take the job.

Under this reason, it could also be that you took time off to care for a loved one. It does not harm to mention that you made a personal decision to care for an ailing family member. Be honest about the current situation and why you want to go back to work.


6. Relocation


A gap in your resume could be because you relocated to a new place. Such a move could mean that it took you a long time before getting another job. The relocation could have affected you directly or otherwise.


Give reasons as to why you had to relocate, but you don’t have to go into the details. For example, you could say that your partner got an incredible job offer in another city. Since you didn't want to get separated by distance, you moved with them to let them explore the new opportunity.


The relocation could also have been informed by a desire to follow your passion. For example, an opening in the interviewing company made you apply and saw you relocate.

These are some of the reasons for a resume gap. When you know how to explain gaps in your resume, your interviewer is likely to consider you for the position.


How to Explain Gaps in Your Resume - Take Away


When attending an interview, the interviewer will be looking at so many things regarding your resume. Among these things are the gaps that indicate some period that you were out of employment. Many reasons exist for this, and knowing how to explain gaps in your resume is crucial.


How you express yourself could spell the difference between getting the job and missing it. Remember to maintain a positive attitude in your explanations. Avoid being defensive or exhibiting any form of desperateness.


The more confident you’re in explaining the gaps; the more impressive you’ll be to the interviewer. Strike a balance between the good and the bad reasons for the gaps. Consider getting professional help in crafting an impressive resume that won’t give you trouble explaining.


If you need help with writing your resume, be sure to contact us today.

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