Time in between jobs isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but employers will likely want to know why. As long as you have an explanation for why you took a break, there shouldn’t be an issue. In recent years we have seen recessions, jobs being sent overseas, and more non-traditional career paths. Employers are much more accustomed to seeing breaks than in the past. If you have a gap in your employment, try these tips to explain why you were away from the traditional 9-5.
Address It In Your Cover Letter
If you are currently unemployed and are trying to reenter the workforce, addressing the gap in your cover letter may be a good option. Explain your reasons for wanting to return and how you have kept up your skills while you have been away.
Bronwen Hann points out that showing how you have improved your skills while being out of the workforce is extremely important. Employers don’t typically want to hire someone who has been out of touch with the industry for five years. Include any classes or certifications you have completed to show your progression.
This question will likely come up in a phone screen and an in person interview if the gap is a significant one. If you only were out of a job for a few months, it will likely be assumed you were just in between jobs but they will probably still ask you about it. Make sure to let them know why you left. If you were fired, I wouldn’t necessarily volunteer that, but offer something along the lines of it wasn’t working out and it was best we went separate ways.
For gaps longer than a couple of months and you need to be able to explain why there is a longer period where you weren’t’ working. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth. If you took time off to stay home with your kids, let them know and end it with why you are so excited to come back. If you decided to start a business and need to come back, let them know. They will probably want to hear about what you were doing and it shows initiative and creativity.
Craft A Creative Answer
If you were out of work and decided to use the time to take a vacation or return to school, explain your thought process and what made you decide to go that route. Taking a non-standard career route can show them that you are able to think outside the box. Many companies are looking for employees who are innovative and can come up with solutions to their problems.
These conversations can help you spark interest and a connection with the interviewer. An interesting story will cause them to be much more likely to remember you. The conversation could make them feel better about working with you. After all, most employers are looking for someone who fits with the team, not just skills.