How to explain gaps in your employment historyChen Wan Lim
Gaps in employment history can be tricky to explain. From a one month gap to a two year gap, missing periods between jobs can be a showstopper, even before you are considered for an interview. People take gaps between jobs to travel, to rest or for some unfortunate events, often for health purposes. Whatever the reason may be, here are some ways on how to explain gaps in your employment history. But before that, here are some quick tips on how to avoid showing employment gaps in the first place.
Tip 1: Covering up those gaps
Sometimes, employment gaps can cause us to lose out on an interview opportunity. To avoid the initial disappointment, you do not need to state the exact date for each employment history. For example, if you have worked in company ABC from April 2012 to July 2015, simply state the duration in years ie. 2012-2015. This however, will only work if the gap between employment is less than one year.
Tip 2: Omitting employment history
Modern resumes are usually capped at two pages long. Therefore, you are not required to show all of your employment history – especially jobs you have had 20 years ago. Therefore, if you have long employment gaps in between, you do not need to show the full history of the jobs you had in sequence. Only show the ones which are relevant and display the required experience for the jobs you are currently applying for.
Now, on the how to explain gaps in your employment history:
Through your cover letter
Cover letters have become a standard requirement for job applications today. These letters are typically one page long attached together with your resume. Explaining employment gaps in your cover letter is one good way of explaining your resume before you are called for an interview. It also sends the message that you acknowledge the gap and have a reasonable explanation for it.
Harping on the positives
Do not delve too much on your employment gaps. Rather, redirect the question to the other positives such as how your employment gap allowed you to pursue a life changing venture or how you acquired new skills and knowledge from taking a year off to travel.
Just tell the truth
For whatever reason it may be, nothing beats telling the truth. Potential employers will definitely appreciate truthful answers no matter how hard it is to accept it. Telling the truth could earn you some extra brownie points – It could even earn you some forgiveness on the employment gap!
For specific reasons on why you have a gap in between, these are some ways you can answer them:
If you had to take some time off work to care for a sick relative or perhaps to even recover from a bout of illness, convince your potential employer that you are now in a better position to continue with your career and that you are excited on continuing your journey in the corporate world.
If you took a three months holiday to tour Europe, then do not say how much fun you had sightseeing and experiencing the local culture. Rather, focus on your solid work ethics, past achievements and even on how travelling broadened your mind and how it could help in the job you are applying for.
Being retrenched is nothing to be ashamed of. Given the current economic climate where companies are focusing on cost cutting efforts, the government has even devised steps to help those who have been retrenched. To explain why you were retrenched, just explain how the company was performing prior to the retrenchment. In addition, note that you were actively seeking new employment since then. Chances are, your future employer will understand your predicament.