How to explain employment gap – If you are afraid of giving wrong impression to the employer about your abilities, strengths, skills and ambitions because of your employment gaps…
If you have been called for a job interview and are really aiming for the position, but are nervous on explaining your employment gaps in work history, and think that they will be a huge turn-off for the employer, wait until we tell you how you can turn the ball in your court and bag the job without leaving a doubt in the hiring manager’s mind.
You fear that the gaps show stagnation in your career instead of a progressing journey, which is why it becomes all the more difficult to explain such phases of career and your decision during these periods.
You are afraid of giving wrong impression to the employer about your abilities, strengths, skills and ambitions. You fear that the employer might think that you were not able to handle responsibilities well in your previous organization and have hence been discharged off your duties or that you are not serious enough about your career or are simply lazy to execute responsibilities within time.
First of all, you need to acknowledge those gaps and not cover them up as employers can most of the time see through the lies and it may leave the employer with an impression worse than when s/he comes to know about your employment gaps.
Explain why your previous company let you go
If your company was revamped or restructured and was consequently downsized or shifted to another location altogether, mention it in your resume or say that during the interview, out-front.
Especially if your company had a bad time during recession, explain that your department was being closed down or many employees were discharged off their duties with the newer trends and methods setting in. Also mention if the company was undergoing financial crisis and letting go some of its employees was a cost-cutting technique. Acknowledging and explaining these reasons would give you the benefit of deciding your career narrative rather than your employer making wild guesses at the possibilities galore.
Give a Positive Review when you mention your previous stint and reasons behind leaving
The golden rule that is to be kept in view during interviews is: Never speak ill of your previous employer, colleague or company. You must also be prepared to give reply to your hiring manager if he asks you about why you did not look for better prospects while working in the previous company.
Voluntary exits also need to be explained
If you took off few months or even a year for pursuing further studies, managing a family emergency or even took some time off for travelling the world, or did an internship, the recruiters would definitely understand and accept the reasons more than the gap itself and the seemingly embarrassing feeling that you did not utilize your time anywhere during the interim. If you had left your job for a sabbatical or travelling purpose, do not forget to mention what you learnt during this period like the specific skills that can help you in your next job (communication, social networking, and leadership qualities). Your updated knowledge about the current trends and affairs in the industry through reading journals, newspapers, magazines and attending seminars will give the extra boost to your professional personality, not to mention the win-win situation for you in front of the recruiter.
Mention professional activities during the interim
The diploma course certifications or specialized programmes that you undertook during the gap are worth giving a mention. Your freelance assignments or consulting work also adds up to your professional standing and leads others to believe that you can take career decisions for yourself and can probably come in use for the company you are getting interviewed at for training and consultancy purposes. Even if you helped in volunteering activities or in personal project, family business, etc., you have spent your time in considerably constructive undertaking. However if you have had an unfortunate experience with your ex-company, you may just have to explain it in the interview in the best possible words that do not reflect any hostility or grudges.
Honesty can be the Best Policy
Your interview should portray you as someone who is serious and wants to control his/her destiny and career plans. You should come across as one who intends to show continuity in career graph, and that can only happen if you explain gaps in work history – be it through your resume, LinkedIn profile or during the interview. Your long term goals and ability to face challenges and adverse situations can only come to the forefront if you specify the reasons for the intervening time. Your integrity and confidence are measured with your honesty so when the employer asks for particular dates and other details related to your work history, be honest and out-front, saying that you took time off to figure out your career goals going forward and what your next move should be, rather than sticking on to something you did not relate yourself to. This will also reveal that you are not money-minded and are passionate about your long-term goals.
Going prepared with the answer on what you did during the employment gap, even if you have mentioned it otherwise in your cover letter, resume or LinkedIn profile is as essential as the dress code during the interview. Your “been there done that” attitude with your travel plans during the gap period will lead the recruiter to believe that you have already experienced the world and will not pack your bags anytime soon.
So, if you have been a working mom for long and want to take some time off to devote only to your children, go for it but be sure if you later resume your career, you should explain the gap saying you preferred to be a stay-at-home mom for some time to watch your child grow up.
Work gaps are not the end of the world and just a careful explanation of the interim can do all the talking for you during the interview. All the Best!