How to Address Gaps on Your Resume

Career Gap

No one wants to be out of work, even for a short amount of time. But life happens and if you find yourself without a job, first take a deep breathe and relax. Having a gap on your resume isn’t going to automatically disqualify you for all future positions. However, you do need to learn how to address it.

Below we break down how to talk to a future employer about a resume gap depending on the situation that caused it.

If You Were Fired

This is clearly the hardest situation to discuss. No one wants to talk about what caused them to get fired from a previous position. But what you can, and should, do is talk about it in an open and honest way. You don’t need to come right out and say, “I was fired for not doing XYZ.” Instead, say that you and the company parted ways and why.

It could look something like: “My former company and I didn’t see eye to eye on [insert situation here] and decided it was best to part ways.”

Being truthful is paramount but remember that they don’t need the long, drawn-out version of the story. Give them the basic information they need to know, don’t bash your former employer, and move on to why you’re a better fit for this company.

If You Were Laid Off

Whether you were fired or laid off, your ego is going to be bruised. Having someone tell you that you’re no longer needed or not performing to their standard is never fun.

If you were laid off it was likely due to a reorganization, a cost-cutting measure, a merger or a myriad of other reasons. This is a simple explanation to provide in a job interview, so tell them what happened and then, similar to the above, change the conversation to why you’re a star employee.

You could say: “My company merged with [insert company name] and they restructured all of the teams and my position was no longer relevant.”

Business is business and a future employer shouldn’t fault you for being in a situation that was likely out of your hands. But it’s still important to remind them that you’re a great addition to any company and why.

If You Left on Your Terms

These days burnout is real. Couple that with the constant Instagram photos of people taking year-long sabbaticals and you may just need a break from the daily grind. So if you’re one of the lucky ones that can afford to quit your job without a backup plan, tell your story.

Here is when you want to go into a bit more detail in your explanation. Tell the hiring manager or recruiter what your former situation was, why you wanted out and what you did in the meantime. Then explain how you plan to prevent yourself from feeling that way again and what you’re looking for in a new position and company. Being honest will help you avoid taking a role that will put you back to where you felt you needed to quit and give an employer real insight into whether you’re the right fit.

Bottom line: Have your explanation ready, and make sure it’s truthful. You don’t need to tell someone your entire life story, but you do need to have a confident, honest answer for the gap in your resume.

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