Many professionals believe that maintaining a consistent employment history is an advantage because it shows how they progress in their careers. However, there will be times when taking a break is necessary, even if it will be reflected on your resume. Often referred to as an “employment gap”, this is a period in one’s professional career when they don’t have any formal employment due to voluntary or involuntary reasons. These reasons can include getting laid off, needing to stay home to care for their child or an ill family member, dealing with health issues, or even pursuing further education.
While there are many valid reasons for having a gap in your employment history, you may feel apprehensive about explaining it during a job interview. Although many hiring managers no longer consider gaps in an applicant's resume to be a disadvantage, they must still inquire about them in order to assess the applicant's suitability for the position. Whether you are finding Philippine jobs or employment in other countries, you’re likely to be asked about any employment gaps on your resume. If you’re uncertain about how to discuss it with the interviewer, here are four tips to help you present it in a positive light.
Initiate the Discussion
Since discussing the gap on your resume is often unavoidable during a job interview, it may be best to initiate that conversation yourself when the chance arises. For example, if the interviewer asks you to tell them something about yourself, you can use this opportunity to talk about the unemployment period on your resume. Keep the explanation brief and move on to other details about your career. It would also help you feel more at ease to plan what you want to say and rehearse saying it before the interview. This way, you can take control of the narrative and project yourself confidently.
Be Honest About It
If your employment gap was the result of a challenging situation, it can be tempting to just lie about it and make up an attractive story. Don’t do this. Altering the truth about your professional career is unethical and can cause you more trouble in the future. Instead, be honest about the situation. Explain the reason for the employment gap and briefly discuss what you did during your professional hiatus.
For example, if you were fired by your previous employer, you might say something like this: “My previous employer and I had different expectations. When I reflected on that experience, I realized there were some things I could have done differently. I learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to bring that maturity to my next job.”
On the other hand, if you left your last job for personal reasons, you can answer in this manner: “I took some time off to reassess my career goals and realign my efforts in this direction. It was a time that helped me prepare for new challenges. I’m very excited about the new opportunities, such as this position.”
Discuss What You Did During the Gap
Although you don’t need to go into detail about the cause of your employment gap, you still need to give specifics about how you spent your time during the gap. It will assist the interviewer in getting to know you as a professional and seeing how you handle change and difficult situations.
It’s best to focus on skills and knowledge you obtained during this period that may have helped prepare you for new career opportunities. This also shows the interviewer that you didn’t stay idle, even if you weren’t formally employed. Talk about any freelance work, volunteerism, or community positions that you have been involved in. Similarly, mention any classes, workshops, or other learning opportunities that helped enhance your professional skills.
Put the Focus Back on the Interview
Once you’ve addressed the reason for your employment gap and discussed what you did during that time, direct the conversation back to your application. Make sure to emphasize your intent to return to work and your readiness to do so. Reinforce your interest by asking a question about the position or the company.
In case the conversation steers back to the cause of your employment gap and you have already shared as much information as you are comfortable with, you can let the interviewer know. Respectfully tell them that you prefer not to discuss the matter further and offer to discuss the details of your work experience instead. From here, you can supply highlights of your professional history that make you qualified for the job you’re applying for.
Having a gap in your resume is more common than you think, and it shouldn’t prevent you from returning to work. Many recruiters understand that circumstances change and aren’t always in our control, and they may use this to determine your ability to adapt to a new situation. As long as you know how to explain the gap in your resume and focus on its positive effects, you can use it to succeed in your job interview and get the employment offer that you want.