Explaining your Employment Gaps to the Interviewer can be an arduous task if you aren't aware of the right approach.
What I personally believe from my 12+ years of professional experience, a Year Gap on your Resume is never treated negatively if you have,
- Proper Explanation
- Right Documents &
- Tangible Proofs to show what you have done in that phase.
& nowadays it has become pretty common taking one/ two years of professional gap due to,
- Higher Study
- Personal Development
- Exploring new verticals/ possibilities etc.
So the Hiring Managers know these circumstances & they don't get surprised to see these kinds of breaks on your resume.
But what they expect? They expect to have a proper explanation of what you did in that phase or what extra skillset you have acquired, which can reciprocate in the present line of work.
If you fail to produce that, you could be in serious trouble. Even in the worst-case scenario, it can create a permanent hole on your profile.
Because what happens in many cases, besides all the above-mentioned situations,
- You might have left your last organization due to some conflict with the management or
- The company got shut down or
- Due to an illness, you couldn't continue work for 1/ 2 years or
- You went for lifetime exploration/ expedition
So when the circumstances are like these (a bit informal) it can be slightly difficult to explain. & that's where the real challenge comes.
But don't panic, today in this article I will explain to you how can you present your Year Gap like a career transforming experience.
Here I will talk about 7 highly effective ways/ approaches which can help you leaving a positive impression on the prospect Employers.
So let's begin,
#1. Be 100% Prepared: It's inevitable
Yes; This is the first piece of advice I will give you. Because if you have any Gaps in Employment (whether it's small/ significant) the recruiters will always find out.
So you have to be ready with your defense strategy. At the prime moment if you fumble or lose confidence then your game will be over before it even begins.
So get yourself prepared with the tips I am sharing here & stay calm! Everything will be fine.
#2. Honesty is the Key: Don't play with your profile
Bluffing/ making things up/ trying to confuse the Interviewer can go completely against you.
Always remember whatever you do to cover-up, the recruiters know how to Digg the dirt up.
So never ever give that chance, rather you should confront everything clearly. Tell the Interviewer in an honest manner as much as required.
You don't have to go in greater detail of all small things but don't avoid or try to downplay any major point.
Because every good organization will meticulously follow & link all your previous employment details before vouching for the total experience you have mentioned in your CV.
So here one thing can only save you. Your honesty.
#3. Try to be as much Clear & Concise as possible
Always remember Employers hate ambiguity. If you have a history of several months/ years of unemployment then you can't hide it. So tell the truth in a clear manner.
At worst case what will happen, you might have to face some sharp questions or your application may end up in rejection. But your image/ profile should remain clean in front of the employer.
Now, what step you should take to minimize the damage as much as possible?
Just turn the face of your resume towards a "Skill-based approach". It means, in your resume try to give maximum focus on your skill set rather than the experience.
Especially in those Gap years, mention what new skills/ technology/ subject matter you had learned/ mastered which can be beneficial for the present organization.
So your new employer will look at your profile from a varied angle.
#4. Give the maximum weightage to your Achievements
In your Resume, there should be an area where you will mention all your achievements (Interpersonal, Technical, etc.) during the Gaps in Employment.
Because you have to turn the Interviewer towards the positive side. That's why your achievements play a significant role here.
List down each & every such point keeping the present requirement in mind. These shouldn't be out of context.
Let's say you are applying for Digital Marketing Analyst profile, so in this context, if you mention the following achievements of yours like,
- Completed Social Media Marketing Certification from Hootsuite
- Started a Blog on SEO
- Successfully written & published 150+ niche articles
- Had become an avid contributor on Quora
- Read 15 Books
- Attended a course on Business Writing
etc. Seeing these interviewers will get a clear signal of your progressive mindset & aptitude.
#5. Try to Relate your unconventional activities with your achievements
Yes, it's the most vital part. Remember what I had told you in the very beginning?
Honesty is the key!
So, whether you had gone for a life-changing trip to Tibet or just took a break to stand beside your family in the crisis period, always try to extract & showcase the positive aspects of it.
Explain to the interviewer what you have learned during that period. That may be,
- Handling Pressure or
- Keeping yourself calm in tough period or
- Team Work or
- Making tough decisions in hard times
Whatever it is, try to relate it to the professional scenario & tell your employer how this has benefited you to be a better person/ professional.
#6. Show your conviction: You have changed
Do you know how much does a bad hire cost to an Employer?
As per the latest study from CareerBuilder, It's around $7000 to $10,000. & it's for Entry/ Mid-Level position only.
That's why when an employer sees that you have frequent Employment Gaps on your Resume, he thinks you will do it again.
So what's the benefit of hiring you.
That's where you have to change the perception by showing your rock-solid determination and conviction.
You have to prove through your body language, approach, action & way of talking that you are a completely changed person now.
& without conviction, it's never possible.
#7. Try to get some solid feedback & referrals
These can be your wildcard to get back in the game. Yes;
You may have some unavoidable gaps in your career but in that interval whichever job/ activity you did, either any voluntary work or consulting, try to get some good feedback from your associates/ partners/ clients.
It really leaves a good impression. It also increases the trust factor. If the employer wants, he/ she can verify too.
Steve Dalton, author of "The 2 Hour Job Search" says,
If I have a job-seeker with a gap in their resume, I encourage them to overcome it with a referral.
To get some good referrals,
- At first, identify your target companies with whom you want to work for
- Then connect with the employees via different social channels like LinkedIn
- Now start making conversation & building rapport
This is the final piece of advice to save you from digging your own misfortune.
## Don't unnecessarily mention Gaps in Employment unless the employer asks
Now you know how to tackle the situation but that doesn't mean you should voluntarily mention everything even if the interviewer doesn't ask.
So, let them ask first then start defending with the best possible ways I mentioned here.
So once again I am telling you, don't get nervous or act like that. Be confident & get yourself ready with all the tips I had shared here.
I bet you will crack your next interview!
If you have any exciting points to share please let us know in the comment section. You can also share your own experience in this particular matter & how you overcame it.