When an interviewer asks, “Can you explain this gap in your employment history” he or she is trying to determine what kind of employee you are.
Having a gap in your resume is not necessarily a bad thing, and when a hiring manager asks about it, it is important to answer truthfully. A prospective employer is generally just wondering why you have not worked in the given amount of time, but there could be any number of explanations. You should respond with an answer that reflects your circumstances.
Points to Emphasize
Whether the gap in your resume is a few months or a few years, it is important to answer in a way that shows you are still a qualified worker and have valuable experience.
- Discuss why you left your last job, whether it was by choice or you were laid off
- Talk about what you did during your time off
- Emphasize any volunteer work or freelance work you did while you were not working
- Remain honest
Do not feel the need to make up an elaborate story about why you have not been working because an employer will find out you are lying eventually. Stay truthful and highlight your skills and accomplishments.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Many applicants have a habit of making some pretty common mistakes when answering their question because they feel the hiring manager is judging them. That is absolutely not the case, so avoid falling into these common traps.
- Don’t speak negatively about your previous place of employment
- Don’t go into the interview without preparing a response for this question
- Don’t try to steer the conversation away from talking about your career gap
- Don’t get nervous or lose confidence
Gaps are nothing unusual in a candidate’s employment history, so tackle them head on. Be confident and honest in your answer, and the employer will see that the gap doesn’t matter.
Although the exact answer you give will vary depending on your specific circumstances, it is important that your response directly addresses the reason for the gap like this:
I took time off from working to focus more on my studies. During my year gap, I took classes in computer science and business administration so that I could be a more viable candidate once I re-entered the workforce. I also did some freelance work in order to gain some real world experience in my field.
Whether you have a gap in your resume due to travelling, taking care of family members or going back to school, it is important to answer this question directly and emphasize what you learned during your time off.