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Stay at home moms will probably have a gap in their resume if they take a break from their career to completely dedicate themselves to their lovely babies. That is totally understandable.

If this is your reason for staying off work for a while, it is not an issue, at all. If you took some time to pursue education, that is also not an issue.

But what is?

This is not an easy question to answer. Different employers will have issues with different types of employment gaps. The reason for this is not the gap itself, it is a possible underlying reason for it.

While taking care of an unwell relative, having a baby, going back to school or doing something similar is a perfectly justified way to be unemployed for a while. Recruiters usually don’t mind that.

Those who are there to employ you fear that your gap might be there due to some serious problems.

They dread a possible inability to keep a job, some sort of addiction issue or something else that would make you more of a nuisance rather than an asset to the company.

Every new hire is a risk and it is a risk that can end up costing a lot of time and money. That is where this suspicion about the employment gaps originates.

That is also the reason why you should do your best to explain your employment gap in the best possible way. Here are some of the ways this can be done.

Be Truthful But Don’t Go into Details

If there is one thing that will ruin your chances to get a job, then it is any sort of attempt to cover up something or lie in your resume.

Remember, people who are hiring others have seen hundreds and hundreds of resumes.

That’s hundreds and hundreds of attempts to hush something or lie about something. They can spot it from a mile away.

That is why you should always be truthful about your employment gap and don’t avoid talking about it or lie about it.

There is always a way to put a positive spin on it and to make the most out of it, especially if there has been a completely justified reason to take the extended time off work.

This brings us to our next tip:

Explain the Reason in Two Lines or Less

You need to give some sort of explanation for the gap in your resume. However, don’t go into too much detail and don’t over-explain it. Your explanation should fit into a line or two.

Just a clear and straightforward sentence stating you took the time off to raise your children or that you had to take care of a sick relative is enough.

No need to go into details about the nature of the illness or the difficulties raising your baby without help. After all, there are some questions not even the HR can ask you.

Just a line explaining what happened and why you took some time off from your career is enough. If your employers need to know more, they will ask you during the interview.

Emphasize That the Situation Is Taken Care Of

This is the reason why you might need two lines to explain the gap in your resume, rather than one.

While explaining what happened, try to add a sentence that will ensure your potential employer that the situation is under control. Provide assurance that it will not be something they should be worried about.

For example, if you have taken some time off to raise your child, mention that they are now attending daycare or that you hired a nanny to free up your time to work.

If you have taken the time off to go back to school, mention that you have since graduated and that is not a time-consuming matter anymore.

Don’t Sweat the Gaps that Are a Month or Two Long

Another question springs to mind – should you address all the gaps in your resume? No. It is expected to have a month or two long gaps in your resume.

It is completely understandable that you would spend a month or two searching for the right job for yourself.

If the gap stretches for more than 6 months, it is time to address it and to try and make the most of it.

Another situation in which you can avoid addressing the employment gap in your resume is when happened a long time ago.

If you had a gap 10 or 15 years ago, but have maintained steady employment ever since it is not necessary to explain yourself.

List all the Work You’ve Done During that Time

People rarely just sit in their homes when they take time off work. There is usually a good reason. Additionally, people do something during that time. They can:

  • Travel
  • Volunteer 
  • Get active in their local community
  • Do some work for their local church 
  • Get some training

There are so many different things that can be done during time off from your career.

Moreover, all those activities can be opportunities to gain interesting experience or even some skills.

Volunteering is an obvious opportunity to gain new skills and experience which can be added to your resume.

The same goes for going back to school or taking up some training.

However, being active in your local community can also bring you some worthwhile experiences. For example, if you organize charity events, you can get some precious experience managing a group of people, taking care of the financials or even writing copy, advertising material and similar.

Make It Sound Like You Were Looking for a Better Fit

If your employment gap was just a prolonged period of time during which you have searched for a job, don’t make it sound like you weren’t able to find anybody to hire you.

You should emphasize it was you who was looking for a better fit.

For example, let’s say you have worked as a copywriter in a company and then had a six-month-long gap ever since then.

You should say that you wouldn’t settle for opportunities that didn’t get you one step further.

Explain that it took time to find a job that would allow you to manage a team of people or move on to a digital marketing position.

Be Prepared for Explaining It During Interview

Given that you have addressed your gap in a short and concise way, your interviewer might want to go a bit deeper and ask you to explain it more thoroughly.

Therefore, always prepare for the interview with this in mind. You should do your best to sound confident and in control of your own choices and actions.

Have a good reason for everything, explain your employment gap without oversharing and show that you have the solution that will prevent you from making such gaps in the future.

In other words, present yourself as a reliable, confident and hardworking individual who would be nothing but a great asset to the company.

If you are in the middle of an employment gap right now, make sure that you make the most of it. In other words, think about the times you will have to explain it.

 Take up a course, go through some training, volunteer or join your local charity organization.

Do whatever you think would be easy to put in your resume and look good to a potential employer. In that way, you will be more than ready for your next job interview.

  Credit: freepik by yanalya

I'm Katrina McKinnon, creator of eCommerce University, founder of McKinnon Group and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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