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How to Explain Your Employment Gap

Posted by Rob Riggins

Contracts end. Life gets in the way. Most of us at some point in our careers will deal with a gap in employment.

Recruiters and hiring managers will be understanding to a degree. After all, they have most likely had to deal with similar issues in their careers. So while it’s not unusual to have an employment gap during your cleared career, what’s the best way to handle it? Watch the video below for tips for success:

Here’s a rough timeline to provide you with direction in handling your employment gap.

Out of Work for Less than Three Months

If you’ve been without a job for less than three months it’s pretty straightforward. You should simply have a good answer when asked by a recruiter or hiring manager as to what you’ve been doing since separating from your previous position. Actively networking and seeking new employment is an appropriate answer.

Out of Work for Three Months to Six Months

Now you’re getting into a timeframe where a simple one-line explanation on your resume is helpful to explain what you have been doing since working in your last cleared job. For example your explanation may be stating that you have been dealing with family care or medical issues, which is fine. If that is your reasoning, be sure to state that these issues have been resolved — assuming that is the case — so it’s clear that you are ready to hit the ground running with a new employer.

More than Six to Nine Months

If you’ve been out of work for more than six months or so, it’s important to be able to address what you have been doing to maintain or upgrade your skills while you’ve been out of work. That could be taking classes, working on certifications, relevant volunteer work or consulting. What are you accomplishing with your time that keeps you a viable employment candidate?

At this stage it’s even more critical to network for success. In an employee referral situation a potential employer is much less concerned about what you’ve been doing during your time off than if you are applying cold without a recommendation.

An employment gap is not a deal killer for hiring managers. They are very common in the cleared community.

Be prepared to address your gap with a plan to keep your skills viable and a professional response for hiring managers, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

This entry was posted on Friday, January 22, 2016 9:38 am

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