How to Manage Gaps in Your Work History

How to Manage Gaps in Your Work History

Landing a job is no easy feat, especially if you’ve been out of the workforce for a few months or maybe even years. Though your skills and experience aren’t automatically discounted simply because you have a few gaps (voluntary or involuntary) in your work history, they can pose an obstacle if not handled properly.

The truth is, most employers are understanding of gaps in your employment history. They just want to know that you didn’t spend those months lounging on the couch, watching day-time television. Not working doesn’t mean you didn’t keep busy. Here are three ways to deal with employment gaps on your resume.

  1. Be Prepared
    Work gaps aren’t the be-all and end-all for your career, but being unprepared to deal with them could be. If you’re hoping the hiring manager will glaze over that 8 month work gap – don’t count on it. Give the same amount of thought to responding to questions about your work gaps as you would to questions about your experience or strengths/weaknesses. It’s helpful to briefly touch on any employment gaps in your cover letter and then go into more detail during an interview.
  2. Honesty is the best policy
    There’s a good chance that the reason you left the workforce is far less damaging or meaningful than actually lying about them/it. Being upfront from the get-go gives you control over your career’s narrative and prevents the hiring manager from assuming you spent those months off doing nothing. Plus, employers are always looking for candidates who are not only trustworthy but also display confidence and integrity.
  3. Fill in the gaps
    Even if your time off doesn’t relate ‘apples to apples’ to the position you’re after, it’s helpful to explain employment gaps in terms of the transferable skills you’ve gained. For instance, traveling the world may not directly relate to the management role you just applied for, but perhaps it built your confidence and gave you a good sense of your ability to conquer the unknown. Reposition what skills you have gained in favor of the jobs you’re seeking.

Though common sense will tell you not to leave one job until you’ve secured another one, in life that’s not always possible. People have families, relocate, go back to school, or even decide to travel for a few months out of the year. Whatever the reason, a little preparation and careful thinking can help you better manage these employment gaps and use them to your advantage when you’re searching for your next opportunity.


Posted on January 28, 2016

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