When it comes to job applications, there is one big fear that many of us share – the dreaded gap in your employment history. Whether it's a few months between jobs, a couple of years off to care for family members, or longer, periods of unstructured time can be off-putting to potential employers and, in some cases, completely disqualifying.
Fortunately, there are ways to address gaps in your employment history in an effective, professional manner.
The most important thing to remember when addressing gaps in your employment history is to be honest. Don't lie or try to explain away a gap; employers can see right through this. Instead, explain the gap, be forward about the hardships you overcame, and illustrate how you used it as an opportunity to gain additional skills or knowledge.
Don’t list your lost time as “unemployed” or “unemployed due to COVID-19”. This won’t tell potential employers anything about why you were out of work and may actually leave them questioning your work ethic or stability. It's better to give a concise description of what you did during that time. For example, if you had a gap in your employment history because you were caring for a sick family member, you could include something like “Provided compassionate care for a family member over an extended period of time.”
It’s also important to make sure your resume is up to date. Make sure the dates of your current job are accurate and to list any side jobs, volunteer work, or freelance work you may have done during that time. This shows potential employers that you remained busy during that period and didn’t become sedentary.
Additionally, it’s important to recognize that gaps in employment history are not as damaging as they used to be. Employers are increasingly tolerant of occasional gaps, as long as your explanation is well thought out and considered.
In short, being honest, accurate, and organized can help you address gaps in your employment history in a professional manner. While gaps in employment history can be a concern for potential employers, the key is to illustrate how you used the time off to further develop your skills and prove your commitment to your continued professional growth.