An employment gap–a time during your work history when you were not employed–can be one of the most challenging hurdles in the interview process. Employment gaps used to be seen as a big problem for workers, but COVID-19 and a number of other life situations have made these gaps more common and acceptable to employers.
Being able to explain employment gaps well can overcome what might be a deal-breaker for a prospective employer and keep you front and center as a top candidate. Some employers may even see well-explained gaps as signs of good character in a candidate and be slightly more likely to hire them.
First Principle–Honesty, If Asked
No matter the reason for your employment gap, it’s important to be honest if you are asked about it directly. That being said, if the employer neglects to bring it up, then experts say you shouldn’t volunteer the information or give a reason. Using a functional resume can de-emphasize gaps, but employers know this strategy, so its value can be of limited use.
If employers really want to, they can often find out the reason for your gap by doing a background check, so you shouldn’t lie about it. It’s possible, however, that they just have other considerations they think are more important. In that case, there’s no point in wasting valuable interview time on the subject.
Employers are not allowed to discriminate against parents for taking time off to care for young children, and they also understand the need to care for elderly parents. That said, if you took any classes or otherwise did anything to advance your skills while you were not in the workforce, it will help you establish that you value your career and won’t be taking frequent breaks whenever the mood strikes.
Layoffs were certainly widespread during the pandemic, so you won’t be the only one with this kind of gap. If you can explain the reason for your layoff, you will put a new employer’s mind at ease, and they will be glad to give you a shot at something new. And again, explaining what you did to keep learning and growing while out of work is always a plus.
Having been fired from a previous job can be a real detriment to finding a new one, so it’s best to show what you learned from being terminated, reassuring hiring teams that you know what went wrong and it isn’t going to happen again. While this may not work in all cases, you are bound to find an employer somewhere in this difficult hiring environment who will want to give you another chance if you persist in your job search long enough.
There is a lot more leeway since the pandemic began for resume gaps, so don’t let one stop you from going after the job you want. An excellent way to connect with employers who are hiring right now is to join GDH’s talent network.