Addressing Gaps in Your Work History

January 30th, 2019


During an interview, you need to navigate tough questions like a professional. Speaking to your strengths, answering scenario questions, and discussing conflict-management styles all help you prove your candidacy. But addressing gaps in your work history can be challenging. Job seekers know this can often be a “red flag” for employers, but if you follow our short guide, you’ll be able to talk through it honestly and impress a recruiter. Here’s how you explain the blank areas of your work history:

1.   Honesty Is the Best Policy

Be straightforward with your interviewer. If they ask a question like: “We don’t see anything listed for 2015, can you talk about that?” here’s your plan. Take a deep breath and remember that having a lull in employment doesn’t make you less qualified for a position. Your reason for being without a job for a stretch is probably a good one. Talk it through and be honest about your situation if your work history gap was due to:

  • Being laid-off
  • Poor fit
  • Unhealthy working conditions or toxic company culture
  • Education-based (you were an active student or just graduated from a course of study)
  • Taking time off to raise a family

If things were a little more complicated, for example, you had urgent personal issues to attend to that required you to leave your job, leave it at that. Your potential employer doesn’t need the dirty details of your family’s transitions or challenges.

2.   Discuss Your Growth

A small pivot can be handy so the recruiter doesn’t focus too much on how long you were out of work and why. It’s great to be able to discuss the constructive things you were able to do during this time. If you have a gap in your work history on your resume, discuss the skills and abilities you worked on. If you took on freelance work, volunteered long-term, started online courses or began learning a new language, talk about it with your interviewer. This shows you’re a self-starter with initiative, and employers always look for a candidate that can develop their skills independently.

3.   Prove Your Performance

If you were terminated from a previous job which led to a spell of unemployment, this is where you need to impress. Any specific information you can give about your excellent productivity on the job will assist you in making your case. It may be helpful to bring a particularly successful report or be able to provide web links to successful projects you worked on. Hard evidence can help your potential employer prove to the team you are an asset.

Ready to find the perfect position for your qualifications? Try SmartTalent, a top Washington staffing agency that offers professional guidance and premium listings to help you further your career on your schedule.

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