There Is Still a Stigma Surrounding Resume Gaps. Learn How To Answer It was originally published on Ivy Exec.
If years are missing from your resume, you’re not alone. In fact, 59 percent of Americans have experienced a gap in their resumes at some point in time.
Sure, there’s a myriad of reasons why you might have a gap in your resume. Perhaps you took time off to start a family. Maybe you had a medical issue you were dealing with, or you were caretaking for a loved one. Taking time off to travel is another common reason for resume gaps, as is taking time off to pursue personal projects and passions.
Whatever the case, even if the reason why you took time off from working is obvious and valid to you, it can still be difficult to explain. You might feel nervous about navigating the conversation, knowing that there’s still a stigma surrounding resume gaps.
Here are some tips for answering, “What did you do in the years that are missing from your resume?” with confidence.
5 Tips for Explaining the Gap in Your Resume
Follow these five tips to better explain why you took time off from work.
1️⃣ Focus on what is on your resume instead of what isn’t.
Instead of immediately pointing out your resume gap (which can come up quickly if it’s heavy on your mind), focus on what is on your resume instead of what isn’t there. Talk about what you have done instead of what you haven’t yet done or didn’t do in those years that are missing.
The interview question might not come up at all. If it doesn’t, you don’t need to bring it up yourself. If it does, however, you can also talk about the ways in which you were growing (as a new parent, a hobbyist, a globetrotter, etc.) instead of how you weren’t growing professionally (at least not directly).
2️⃣ Show that you’re ready to rejoin the workforce.
One of the biggest reasons why resume gaps raise red flags for hiring managers is because they worry that you’re not ready to rejoin the workforce. So talk about why you are. If you took time off to raise your kids, for example, you can talk about how you’ve successfully done that and are not looking forward to getting back to work.
3️⃣ Emphasize all of the experiences you have that are valuable to the employer.
Experience comes in all shapes and sizes—and it doesn’t need to come from a job. Maybe you’ve gained a lot of experience in leadership because you took a year off to sail around the world as a co-captain. Or maybe you’ve grown professionally through learning how to start your own business while pursuing a passion project over the last few years.
Whatever the case, your experiences are valuable and may even be applicable to the role. The soft skills and leadership qualities you may have taken away from those experiences can make you an even better fit for the role at hand.
4️⃣ Share the skills that you’ve developed outside of the workforce, too.
The same goes for skills. You can develop hard and soft skills outside of the workforce. Soft skills like patience, collaboration, teamwork, critical thinking, communication, active listening, and more can strengthen through deepening your relationships with family and friends. You can also develop soft skills (and emotional intelligence) by deepening your relationship with yourself.
You can also develop hard skills even outside of the workforce. If you’ve taken relevant classes or gotten certified during your time off work, you should talk about these skill-building experiences.
5️⃣ Be honest about why you took a break from your career.
At the end of the day, honesty is always the best policy. Trust is important in the workplace, and you can’t build it if you start off being dishonest. Remember that hiring managers are humans, too. And, for all you know, they may be able to relate to the personal reason you took time off work. Perhaps they have a family of their own or share your hobbies or experiences.
Having a gap in your resume is nothing to be ashamed of. Plenty of people are in the same position as you. Just make sure that you know how to explain the gap in your resume to set yourself apart from the rest and nail your next job interview. Ivy Exec is here to help you do that with resume gap talking tips.