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How to Address Employment Gaps in Interviews

 interview photoFor whatever reasons, many people who are job seekers today have gaps in their employment history. It could be from job layoffs, starting a family, caring for relatives or your own illness. Whatever the reason, you will have to address these gaps in some way, and often during interviews.


Stay Calm — You got the interview even though you had obvious gaps in your employment record. This means they already like you. Most employers aren’t going to bring in someone to interview that they don’t already really want to hire. The interview is a way to see how you handle stress and to see how you relate to others.


Be Positive — Instead of apologizing for a gap, explain the gap in the most positive way possible. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you were caring for a sick relative or starting a family. Quickly explain while talking about how you kept your skill level up through volunteering or other means during the gap.


Don’t Lie — If you didn’t volunteer, weren’t on a sabbatical, and did nothing to keep your skills up during the time, do not lie about it. Lying on your resume, then being asked about that lie in an interview will make you extremely nervous, and it will show.


Tell Them What You Did — They want to know what you were doing during your time off. Tell them. If you were caring for family, children, sick relatives, or simply laid off, let them know what you’ve been doing during that time. Hopefully, if you were laid off, you spent the time working as a consultant, contractor, or getting further education.


Provide References — If you have gaps in your employment history, it might be a good idea to get some written references from volunteer positions, professors, and others who have known you during your time out of work. Even references from your former employer can be very good, especially if your gap is due to being laid off during harsh economic times.


Focus on Skills — During the interview, if you focus on provable skills that you have, you can deflect interest in any gaps that you may have in employment. After all, whether you can do the job, and whether you’ll be dedicated to the job, are what they’re really questioning. Give them answers that indicate that you can do the job and will be dedicated.


Focus on Periods of Stability — If you had a long work history prior to the gaps, focus on that fact. Highlight to your interviewer how dedicated you were prior to the incident that caused the employment gap. Thank the interviewer for an opportunity to explain and move on.


If you can find a way to demonstrate how proactive you have been during the employment gaps in keeping your skills current, learning about the industry, and show your pride in the jobs you did have before the gap, you should be fine. Remember, they’re interviewing you. That is half the battle.


Now be honest… is the resume and cover letter you’ve been submitting for jobs getting you noticed? Are you receiving invitations to interview? If you answered “no,” we should talk. Contact me by phone: 1-866-562-0850 or email: for a NO COST, NO OBLIGATION 15-minute consultation. 


Kimberly Ben is a multi-credentialed Professional Resume and LinkedIn Writer and Job Search Coach. She has written hundreds of resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and other career communications for multiple career industries and professions. Kimberly’s extensive education, training, and experience have resulted in a clear understanding of current hiring best practices and the most effective job search techniques, branding strategies, and insight on what it takes to gain the competitive edge and impress employers in a challenging job market.

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