Discussing Employment Gaps During an Interview

All kinds of employees, from high-level executives to administrative assistants, take extended employment breaks for a variety of reasons. Sometimes these are voluntary choices, while other times employees fall victim to high unemployment or a weak economy. Whatever the reasons, employment gaps can pose an interesting challenge when it comes to the job search. Candidates don’t want the employment gap to reflect negatively on their work history but, at the same time, the resume isn’t the appropriate place to go into too much detail. Here are a few tips for explaining these gaps during the interview, allowing you to put the focus back on your unique and expansive skills and abilities.

3 Ways to Explain Employment Gaps

  • Explain why you left your last job with a positive attitude. Maybe your company downsized or eliminated your department. Perhaps your position was outsourced. Any one of these reasons can leave a sour taste in your mouth, but you cannot let it show. Stay positive when explaining why you were let go, and then emphasize the job duties you excelled at in that position – teamwork, special skills and communication. Show you understand the situation was not personal, then direct the conversation back to your abilities.
  • Emphasize professional development and volunteer work. Though you were unemployed, you were still working to better yourself professionally or spent your time giving back to the community. Briefly touch on the fact that you were still an active job seeker, but show that you also wanted to make the best use of your time. Did you volunteer your time and talent for a nonprofit or a community project? Did you go back to school or attend any seminars or special training sessions? Focus the conversation on what you were doing to show that, though you may not have been gainfully employed, you were still committed to growing.
  • Be clear and honest. Explaining employment gaps during an interview can be uncomfortable and awkward. You want to show the best you, but that can be tricky if the hiring team keeps focusing on your gaps. Be truthful, but polite about why you left your last job. The interviewers are trying to determine if your employment gaps make you a risky hire, so it’s up to you to show your dedication and commitment. Don’t go overboard and don’t be desperate or false, but take every opportunity you can to shift the focus back on why you are the ideal candidate for this specific opening.

One way to combat the employment gap is to partner with a staffing firm. Associates and job seekers who partner with High Profile Staffing can eliminate the awkward breaks in employment by gaining experience and earning a paycheck through contract and contract-to-hire work.

In today’s world, many candidates actually prefer contract work, building solid, full-time careers out of multiple part-time and contract jobs. Showing your versatility can be a plus, if presented professionally on your resume. Emphasize what you gained from your temporary positions, along with what that employer gained from you.

At High Profile Staffing, we understand the challenge that comes with explaining employment gaps. Our job is to match candidates with the opportunities that help build resumes and add depth to your career.

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