How To Handle Resume Gap Questions In A Job Interview

A mid adult female job applicant gestures as she discusses her qualifications with a potential employer.

Life happens, and sometimes we have to step away from work to live it. This may sound unfathomable, but believe it or not, employment sabbaticals are more common than you think

2022 LinkedIn survey findings revealed 62% of workers had embarked on some gap time in their careers.

What’s more, recent data shows that up to 47 percent of under-25s in the UK have taken a career gap of six months or more.

“There is less of a stigma attached to job hopping or gaps in a résumé, and joining companies in other geographies without relocating has become easier than ever, making it possible for people to jump from one employer to another,” Aaron De Smet, Bryan Hancock, and Bill Schaninger and expert associate partner Bonnie Dowling wrote per a McKinsey reporting.

Although career fluidity is becoming more widely acceptable, it is still important to effectively speak to the resume gaps when looking to reenter the workforce. Fortunately, there are ways to still demonstrate your commitment to the role you’re vying without scaring the interviewer off when they see the resume gaps.

Accept that you more than likely will have to address it, so get in front of it

“You might’ve noticed it’s been about nine months since my last position. I was focused on caring for a family member during that time. Thankfully they’re in a much better place so I can shift my sights on getting back to what I love—this kind of work.”

Be honest but don’t overshare

It’s always best not to lead with the truth, but it doesn’t mean you have to invite the interviewer into your personal business. It’s perfectly fine to add some context to for the gaps, but refrain from revealing any additional details that aren’t german to why you’re there, exploring whether this job is a good fit for you and vice versa. Be careful to not share too much grievances with a prior employer, sharing that you flat out did not want to work at all, or deep details about your mental health you aren’t comfortable indulging in.

Pivot the conversation back to the present

You’re in this job interview because you want the position now so it’s important not to ruminate too long in the past. Providing a concise statement about the resume is enough to address any question the interviewer may have, and move the conversation back to a place where you’re discussing your future with the company.

“I was on maternity/paternity leave. I immensely appreciate my time at home, but make no mistake, I am ready to get back to work.”

“My last position didn’t necessarily provide the growth opportunities I was looking for, so I left, and dedicated time fact-finding and getting clear on what best aligns with my professional goals. That’s how I know this position is exactly what I’m looking.”

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