Because a bad hire can be an incredibly expensive mistake, employers always are on the lookout for warning signs. Unfortunately, an employment gap is one of those red flags.
This may seem like bad news, but don’t panic. There are perfectly reasonable and justifiable explanations for most work history gaps. You only need to know how to approach it.
Lying about an employment gap is a terrible idea. If you get caught, you won’t get the job. Instead, simply state the reason for the break in your work history. No apologies necessary. After all, if a company isn’t going to consider your application because you took a time off to care for a sick relative or small children, you probably don’t want to work for that organization anyway.
Keep It Short
The answer to an interview question should be between one to two minutes long. Candidates can easily dig themselves into a hole by giving more information than necessary. Keep your explanation brief. Don’t say, “I lost my job because my boss didn’t like me, and he gave me more work than I could handle.” Instead, leave it at “I lost my job.”
Calm Their Fears
Remove any doubts the interviewer may have by discussing why your work history gap is currently a non-issue. For example, “I decided to stay at home with my small children. Now, they are in school full time and I am eager to resume my career.” Or, “Even though I received positive reviews, I was laid-off because I was the most recent hire. I am looking forward to finding a great new position.”
Focus on the Wins
In many cases, an employment gap can make you MORE valuable to an employer. If you went back to school, you are better educated. If you traveled, you gained new perspectives. If you cared for an elderly relative, you learned patience and better time management. Also, be sure to mention any volunteer work, ongoing education or related experiences you completed. You may not have received a paycheck, but you still added to your skill set.
As American author Dale Carnegie once wrote, “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.” This easier said than done, especially if you just came out of a difficult situation. If you feel yourself slipping into negativity, remind yourself to keep it short and focus on the wins.
Prepare and Practice
Finally, you need to explain your work history gap, but you don’t need to defend it. If you are caught off guard and you fumble through your answer, you will sound, well, defensive. Recognize you will be asked this question. Plan and rehearse accordingly. A confident and compelling response is the best way to dismiss any worries your potential employer may have.
Are you having trouble finding a job?
An employment agency can help you get back in the game. FirstStaff has offices located conveniently throughout Arkansas and Texas. Contact us today to learn more!