Pamela SkillingsThis article is about how to explain a resume gap in a job interview. This is a common challenge for anyone who has taken time away from work for any reason, whether professional or personal.
Recruiters and hiring managers are trained to look for gaps in candidates’ resumes and ask questions about them. After all, gaps can sometimes indicate a candidate could be a risky hire.
However, there are often good reasons for gaps. People commonly need to take some time away from the workforce to take care of other pressing matters — for example, caring for family members or recovering from health issues.
If you have taken some time away or otherwise followed an unorthodox career path, your gaps will likely come up in your interviews.
Do not fear! We’re here to help you address these gaps in a neutral or positive way that will explain your decision and experience without raising red flags.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons for having gaps in your work history and how to address them.
Parenthood Employment GapsRaising young kids takes a lot of time and energy. If you’ve taken time out of your career to care for children, you may have a significant gap in your resume.
If you’re currently trying to return to full-time work after time away to focus on parenting, here is some guidance on how to answer questions about your time away from work in your interviews.
1. Project ConfidenceThis is a very common situation. Be confident in the decision you’ve made to make your family a priority.
However, you must also show you are confident in your readiness and ability to return to work and excel in the position at hand.
Do not go in to your interview apologetic or take a timid stance on the issue. Boldly but politely explain your thoughtful and calculated decision to take time off for your children.
Then, make it clear you are ready to return and enthusiastic about getting back to work.
Your interviewer will likely appreciate your candor and your solid stance.
2. Don’t Be DefensiveWhile you do want to project confidence, you don’t want to be defensive. Understand that it is reasonable for the interviewer to wonder about your gap and don’t assume they are biased against you.
The key is to be confident and straightforward without over-explaining or falling into self-deprecating language.
Defensiveness can make interviewers wonder if you’re hiding something — or if you’re truly confident in your abilities.
3. Brush Up on TechnologyIf it’s been some time since you’ve been in the workplace (5-10 years or more), technology has likely advanced past what you were used to.
Brush up on workplace essentials, such as Google Drive, Google Calendars, Microsoft Office, and any other software specific to your industry.
Your technological competencies will likely be asked about in your interview and you don’t want to be caught off guard.
You can analyze the job description for specifics on what technical skills are most important in the role you’re interviewing for.
You can also tap into your network and/or research industry trends to learn more about technical skills that could come up.
4. Keep Up with Your IndustryMuch like technology, industries are changing all of the time. Hopefully you’ve kept tabs on major developments while you’ve been out of the workforce, but if you haven’t, take some time to do some research before your interview.
You want to make sure you can keep up with the conversation during your interview, as well as be able to speak knowledgeably about the current challenges and triumphs facing your industry.
Even if you’ve kept up on changes, you may have to counter mistaken perceptions that you’re “out of touch.” Be aware that interviewers may have concerns about your ability to jump back in.
Prepare to talk about how you’ve kept your skills and knowledge fresh.
You can discuss any part-time work, volunteer experience, classes, or other relevant activities.
If you don’t have a lot to talk about, consider signing up for a job-related class or online training course. Even if you won’t have time to complete it before your next interview, your decision to enroll can reinforce your commitment to returning to work and show you have some current knowledge.
Read the full article to see how to discuss other types of gaps