EXPLAINING EMPLOYMENT HISTORY GAPS
There are many reasons why a person would have a gap in their employment history. Attending school, dealing with health issues, going on parental leave, caring for a sick family member, travelling, and simply having trouble finding a job are just a few reasons why someone may have a gap on their resume.
In today’s environment, many may have lost their job due to the impact of COVID-19 on the industry they were employed in and subsequently had a difficult time finding a new job.
Whatever the reason, know that you are not alone in having a gap in your employment history.
While a gap in employment history isn’t ideal on a resume, never lie on your resume or in a job interview. Be honest and focus on the positive.
RESUME AND COVER LETTER TIPS
- List the year(s) of employment in your previous jobs instead of the months on your resume, but also be prepared with the actual months in case you are asked. Do not lie about your employment dates.
- If you volunteered, pursued education, attended relevant events, or took classes/workshops during your employment gap, be sure to include this information on your resume.
- Focus more on career highlights and successes on your resume.
- What did you do during your gap in employment? You can include freelancing, consulting, starting a business, picking up a new skill or developing an existing skill, research, and personal development on your resume or cover letter.
- Use your cover letter as an opportunity to briefly and clearly explain any employment gaps. As long as it is true, also emphasize that the situation previously impacting your employment has been taken care of and is no longer an issue for you.
- Emphasize your newly acquired transferable skillset and how it would be an asset to the job you’re applying for on your cover letter.
- Provide letters of reference, recommendations, and testimonials to speak to your strengths.
TACKLING THE INTERVIEW
You may be questioned about gaps in your employment history in your job interview. If you do have a gap, be prepared to answer questions about it. Don’t feel the need to go in depth, but be confident in your answer.
- Have your honest answer prepared ahead of time. There is no need to be embarrassed about a gap in employment history. Explain yourself clearly and calmly when asked.
- Reiterate that you are available and ready to re-enter the workforce and the situation that attributed to your employment history gap has been resolved. Mention that you’re focused on finding a good career fit for both yourself and for the company.
- Discuss how you’ve advanced your professional skills during your employment gap.
- Do NOT badmouth your former employer. Even if your exit wasn’t graceful, put a positive spin on it and highlight the skills you learned from your previous positions.
EMPLOYMENT GAPS DUE TO COVID-19
- If you were unemployed or could not work due to COVID-19, take inventory of what you accomplished during that time. What did you do during lockdown? Courses, workshops, independent research, efforts in expanding your network, volunteering in the community, taking care of loved ones, and practicing or developing a skill or talent are all examples that may help you build a robust list.
- Focus on anything you did that could be considered a step forward in career development. Although things are difficult during a pandemic, maybe you researched various job competencies online or read up on new technology that the position you’re applying to would require.
- Flesh out your list of skills, including soft skills (skills such as time management, flexibility, and working well with others) and hard skills (more technical skills such as computer skills, management skills, and marketing skills).
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Taking Your Job Search Online is developed in partnership with South Essex Community Council and funded by United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County and the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund.