How to Address a Gap in Employment

Managing Employment Gaps in Resume - Style Nine to Five

A gap in your employment history isn’t the end of your career. Layoffs and terminations happen, and it’s okay to quit. Sometimes, your personal life takes priority over your career too, and extended time off may be needed to raise children, help loved ones, travel, or simply enjoy your life. Or, sometimes, you simply can’t find a job—none of it is the end of your career journey. But when you’re applying for that next job, you need to personally make sure the hiring manager sees it as okay, too. It’s easier than it sounds!

1. Omissions Are Okay!

It’s not lying on your resume to remove anything irrelevant to the job you’re applying for, and not all prior experience is relevant anyway. So, hiring managers usually won’t bat an eye if there’s multiple periods unaccounted for on your resume—you can explain it by saying you’re only submitting the relevant jobs you’ve held.

If you’re concerned about small gaps, you can also remove the months from the dates you’ve held certain jobs for. No good hiring manager is going to toss out an amazing resume because the months were missing—they probably won’t even notice if your experience is ideal!

2. Be Transparent

When you do have to address your employment gaps, be honest. Be mindful about what language you use. For example, outright stating you were “fired” sounds very harsh. But even if you have to say something negative about yourself, follow it up with something positive. State that yes, your contract was terminated at your prior job, but the experience made you grow into a better employee because you’ve since found ways to improve yourself—and be specific about these improvements!

You can get ahead of the narrative by addressing a gap in your resume or cover letter. Perhaps you’ll list it on your resume like a job, explaining what you did with this time off instead of stating you were laid off or quit. State that during that year off you were a full-time stay at home mother to a newborn, or you took extended time off to learn new skills outside of the workforce by taking self-directed courses.

2. Highlight Other Endeavours

Tying into that last point, the best thing you can do is to make something positive out of your employment gap. Whenever you’re discussing it, highlight all the productive things you did during this time. Did you take classes or any relevant courses? Did you volunteer anywhere? Did you do any projects at home? These things all count for something on your resume. If the hiring manager sees that you’re dedicated to learning and growing even outside of the workplace, a period of unemployment could end up working in your favour.

As long as you treat your employment gap with care and caution when discussing it, your application and interview should go over smoothly. Be honest and optimistic, but remember you don’t need to disclose every little detail either. Trust me, this period of unemployment will be over sooner than you think!

Need help moving forward on your career path? Purchase a Style Nine to Five Get Hired in Your Dream Job Workbook!

Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.

Feature Image: Adobe Stock