A gap in your resume is always stressful to explain, even if it’s out of your control. Whether you’re unemployed due to the pandemic or took time off to take care of your family, explaining your employment gap during an interview is enough to make anyone nervous.
However, explaining your resume gap doesn’t have to be that stressful. If you do it right, you can focus on what you learned and the positives that you took away from the experience. Keep reading to learn how to explain the 5 most common types of resume gaps.
First, it’s important to understand what a resume gap is. Taking three months in between jobs is considered a job searching period, not an employment gap. Taking nine months, however, would likely be considered an employment gap.
1. Being unemployed
If you were let go due to COVID-19, know you are not alone. The world is facing record levels of unemployment, so explaining this to an employer likely won’t be an uncommon hurdle. However, it’s important to work through your COVID anxiety and frame your unemployment gap as time you spent learning new skills that are relevant to your career.
2. Taking time off to travel
A travel-related resume gap is pretty common, but can be stressful to explain since most of the time it wasn’t a “necessary” resume gap. Whether you spent time backpacking through the Alps or road tripping around your country, explaining a travel gap is all about framing it positively to focus on what you learned.
Pick up a new language? Learn to use a different currency? These are all skills that contribute to cultural literacy, which can help you have a more holistic understanding of the world around you.
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3. Going back to school
Going back to school is another common reason for a resume gap, and luckily it’s usually not that difficult to explain. If you went to pursue higher education in your career, you should highlight what makes you different than another applicant who doesn’t have that new level of education and focus on your positives rather than what you missed during your time away from the office.
4. Taking a job outside your career path
If you took a job that wasn’t relevant to your career, it can be a struggle to decide whether to include it on your resume. However, a great way to circumvent this is to highlight it on your cover letter instead. Mention how you took a job in a different field to make ends meet, but that you’re ready to get back on your feet and dive back into your career.
5. Taking time off for family
Family-related leave is one of the most common reasons for a gap in employment. Whether you went on maternity leave or took time to take care of a sick family member, family-related leave can be explained by focusing on how you took care of your family and kept your skills up during your time off.
When explaining a gap in your resume to potential employers, it’s important to be transparent. Employers can see right through candidates that are clearly trying to hide something, and will usually respect you more for being straightforward and honest about your resume gap.
However, while you are being transparent, you should also assure the interviewer that this employment gap is not a pattern. They want to know you aren’t going to work at their company for a few months and leave, so it’s important to give them peace of mind that you want to stay and build your career there.
No matter what type of resume gap you have, being honest about it is always the best policy. For a complete guide to structuring a gap in your resume, check out the infographic below.
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