If you’ve been away from the workforce for less than six months, most employers won’t pay much attention to this, and will be far more concerned with your overall credentials and experience then your short departure from the office. But if your gap extends longer than a year or two, you may need to allay some serious concerns before you’re presented with a job offer. Here are a few tips that can help you overcome this potential obstacle.
1. First, Don’t Let the Gap Determine your Destiny
Most of the time, a resume gap isn’t a big deal until somebody on one side of the table makes it a big deal. So don’t be that person. If the gap concerns your interviewer, let her bring it up. Let her explain her feelings, and then let her ask whatever questions she’d like to ask. Don’t make assumptions about what she’d like to know, or what she considers a problem.
2. Be Honest with Your Employment Dates
The fastest way to turn a simple employment gap into a red flag dealbreaker is to falsify or misrepresent your employment dates. Some job seekers are tempted to do this, but by all means, don’t choose this path. Time away from the workforce is almost always supported by an honest and valid reason (like childrearing, caring for a family member, a return to school, career change, etc). But there’s never a valid reason to lie on a resume. Don’t make a small issue into a big one.
3. Be Ready to Frame The Gap in a Positive Light
Don’t bring up the gap until you’re asked, but when you are asked, be ready. Have a clear statement prepared that explains why you’ve been out of the game, and be ready to talk about what you’ve been doing during this time in terms that reflect well on your candidacy. Have you been volunteering? Consulting? Lecturing? Caring for a family member? Explain what you’ve been up to and how your activities have helped you grow as a potential employee.
4. Explain How You’ve Stayed In touch With Changes in Your Industry
Use both your cover letter and your interview to explain how you’ve stayed in touch with trends and developments relevant to your field. Have you been publishing articles in industry journals, joining open source communities, teaching courses, or simply maintaining an active professional network? If you’ve done any of these things, don’t miss a chance to share this fact.