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Employment Gaps?  No Need to Stress!

Do you have employment gaps on your resumé? Resume gaps happen and it is okay to have one, especially in these times, things have changed and employers are more prone to disregard them, but it’s all in how you present to either recruiters or hiring managers.

When evaluating resumés, potential employers look for applicable skills, relevant experience, and always, unexplained gaps in employment history. A gap in your resumé can mean many things—you have deliberately left work history off of in an attempt to hide something, that you unexpectedly lost your job and had difficulty finding a new one, that you willingly left your job without having a new position lined up, or that you or a loved one were faced with illness and unable to work—and all of these could signal to potential employers that you might be a risky hire.

However, there are ways to justify a gap in your resumé to prospective employers that will position you as a viable candidate. Instead of having a gap in your employment history, be honest and list general reasons for the gap.  Once you are speaking with the hiring manager or recruiter, clarify the gap.  Below, are ways to explain these gaps, and offer guidance for specific types of resumé intervals. 

  • Growing Family
    • Explain why you took time off to prioritize your family
    • Describe why you are now ready to go back into the workforce to work and what you’re eager about
    • Offer specifics on why the role is a good fit for you
    • Sample response: “I recently became a mother and needed to focus on my family and raising my baby after leaving my last position. I am now ready to re-enter the workplace and take on the challenge and continue my professional growth.”
  • Layoff
    • Explain that you were laid off from your previous role why – for example, due to budget cuts or restructuring
    • Do provide some examples of strong performance or achievements while you were in your previous role
    • Spend more time describing how you have used your time away from the workplace, and why you think the opportunity is a good fit
    • Sample response: “My previous organization had to make a series of budget cuts, as a result, my role was eliminated. However, I am proud of the contributions made during my time. During unemployment, I have focused on what I want from my next role and have proactively been keeping up to date with the latest developments within the industry. This role is an opportunity to continue to build on my existing skillset and make contributions to the company.”
  • Continuing Education
    • Explain why you decided to go back to education – such as the specific qualifications or certifications you wanted to acquire
    • Underscore that you are committed to personal and professional development and highlight how the skills gained would benefit the position
    • Sample response: “I recognized my skills gap deficiencies, so decided to continue my education and skillset.  This opportunity is a good fit, and I am excited to bring value and expertise to it.”
  • Hiatus
    • Explain why you decided to take a break and what you did during that time, for example, travel, for personal development, cultural awareness, or acquiring new outlooks
    • Emphasize that you are now ready to return to the workforce
    • Describe why this opportunity excites you
    • Sample response: “I took time off to expose myself to different cultures and gain new perspectives by traveling. It allowed me to learn many things. I am now ready to focus on the next stage of my career and am excited to build on my skillset with your organization.”
  • Illness
    • There is no need to provide details of the illness
    • Explain how you’ve used your time – acquired new skills, kept up with industry news and trends, or volunteered in the community?
    • Reiterate that you are ready to return to work, emphasizing why you think the position is a good fit
    • Example answer: “I felt unable to continue in my prior position due to a medical condition. However, I have now returned to full health and am ready to return to the workforce. It is a role that draws upon my existing skills, fits my values, and gives me chance to add real value every day.”
    • Sample response: “I had to leave my prior position to care for a family member. I’ve done this for the past year. I am ready to return to the workforce and am seeking an opportunity with an innovative company that will allow me to build on my existing skills.”

In closing, general principles you should remember:

  • Structure your answer well and use positive language.
  • Be open and honest with your answer, without going into excessive detail.
  • Explain why you were unemployed, explain what you did, and underscore why you think this is the right opportunity for you.
  • Demonstrate that you remain productive and proactive. For example, consulting or contracting, studying, or volunteering.
  • Focus on how you used your time, and why you think this is the right role for you, rather than going into specifics about the reason for the gap.

If you have employment gaps on your CV and are looking for opportunities, consider a recruitment expert to help you.  Precision Life Sciences has more than 50 years of leveraged staffing experience and is better equipped to help you with your career objectives.  You will be supported by recruiting experts who specialize in your field and will have access to our robust network of clients.