1. What is an employment gap?
  2. Common reasons for employment gap
  3. Personal reasons
    1. Illness
    2. Family emergencies
    3. Taking time out for family & children
    4. To study further
    5. Finding the right career
  4. Professional reasons
    1. Fired by the previous employer
    2. The position was made redundant
    3. Problems with the culture of the workplace
  5. Hacks to hide employment gap from resume

We all have had times in our career, wherein we had to prioritize things beyond our career itself.

A mere leave for a couple of days didn’t seem enough. A gap in employment can be voluntary or situation-based.

However, explaining this to an interviewer can prove tricky.

If you are trying to explain employment gap on your resume, this blog is a must-read for you.

In this blog, we shall provide genuine hacks & all the answers to explain employment gap during an interview.

What is an employment gap?

Though the term is self-explanatory, technically, an employment gap can be defined as a specific period wherein a current job seeker wasn’t professionally working or wasn’t open to work opportunities.

This decision can be a voluntary one or may have other external factors adding to it.

Although there is no specific coined tenure which is regarded as a short or long employment gap, most HRs consider an employment gap of more than 9 months as a drawback.

Common reasons for employment gap

A gap in employment can be majorly due to two reasons:

  1. Personal reasons
  2. Professional reasons

Personal reasons

There can be countless reasons for an individual to take a break from work.

However, a few of the most commons ones are listed below:

1. Illness

Productivity is directly proportional to health.

A survey by the Employee Benefit News magazine said that 31% of respondents rated mental fatigue as the number one reason for the loss of productivity.

Having said that, sometimes an illness may force a person to take a break from work. How to explain it to an interviewer?

Here is how:

  • Be honest about your illness.
  • Don’t get into unnecessary details.
  • Explain how you utilized your time productively while being off work.
  • Show your eagerness & commitment to get working again.

Sample

I was forced to take a voluntary break from work due to a medical condition.

However, I used to utilize my time by keeping myself up to date with new trends emerging in my field.

I feel much aware & well versed with the new technology & practices. Since I have completely recovered from my illness now, I am eager to get back to work.

I am optimistic to work to the best of my potential to accelerate my career growth.

2. Family emergencies

Indeed nothing is above family. If you have a gap in employment due to a family emergency, here is how you need to explain it in the right manner.

  • Explain in detail about the emergency & why were you required urgently.
  • Assure the interviewer that the problem has been taken care of.
  • Assure that there is a rare possibility such a problem shall arise again.
  • Show you are willing to work again at the earliest.

Sample

I had to leave my previous organization due to a family emergency. Since ___ months, I have been taking care of my family.

However, thankfully the problem has been taken care of & concrete steps have been taken to ensure no such emergencies arise in the future.

Keeping all that in the past, I sit here in this interview with the right skills & zeal to start working again as soon as possible.

3. Taking time out for family & children

We all have some motivation to keep on growing & working in life, for most, it is the family.

If you have taken some time off work to spend time with family & children, here is how to explain it:

  • Explain why you had an urge to spend more time with your family?
  • Be clear on why do you think this is the right time for you to look for a job again?
  • Don’t sound confused about maintaining work-life balance.

Sample

I have recently become a father, I wanted to spend more time with my child before getting back to work.

Now having spent enough time with my family & child, I feel
it’s time to get back to work.”

4. To study further

Knowledge is endless if not everything but whatever we can gain shall always stay.

Here is how to explain education as the reason for an employment gap:

  • Explain why you chose to go back to studying.
  • Explain how this education shall help you in your career & your new role.

Sample

While working in my previous organization, I identified a few fields wherein I wanted to learn more.

Since that wasn’t possible to achieve while working full time, I decided to quit my job & study more to fulfill those gaps.

I have learned many new things in my field and feel that my skills have sharpened & I can be much more productive professionally.

5. Finding the right career

This is one of the most common questions which most millennials have in mind.

Is this the right career for me? Is this what I want to do in life?

You may ask such questions to yourself, but to an interviewer, you need to give the right answers.

Here is how to do that:

  • Be open about your dilemma.
  • Sound confident that you found an answer & there is no such confusion now.
  • Describe why you think this is the right choice.
  • Assure this wouldn’t come up again in the future.

Sample

Honestly speaking while I was working in my previous organization, I realized that maybe that wasn’t what I wanted to do in life.

I had to quit my job to understand what exactly I want to do. However, after all this time of careful introspecting.

I realized (Job role) is exactly what I want to do. The learnings, challenges & growth in this role are what I want.

This role gives me a chance to explore new things every
day & that is how I want to grow professionally.

I assure you, I shall put my heart &
mind in this role.

I have thought enough for these months & now I positive that no confusions shall arise in the future too.

Professional reasons

Here are a few most common professional reasons for the gap in employment.

1. Fired by the previous employer

Most job seekers consider hiding the fact that they were fired from their previous organization.

For obvious reasons, the thought may seem right. However practically speaking, such things cannot be hidden in the modern-day job market.

Here is how to explain this reason to an interviewer:

  • Be honest.
  • Explain the situation & reasons for getting fired.
  • Emphasize what you have learned from it & what have you done to improve.
  • Show your willingness to work harder with new skills & enthusiasm.

Sample

My previous employer had quite different expectations from me.

Although I tried my best to match them, we couldn’t come on the same page.

Since that incident, I have spent my time introspecting & have used this time to learn new things to
acquire more skills.

I feel I am ready to give my 100% to this new role with new skills & understanding.

2. The position was made redundant

Sometimes, companies make few positions redundant to save some cost. In this situation explaining to an interviewer that you were not fired but laid off can prove tricky.

So, here is what you need to do:

  • Describe the reasons behind this decision by the company.
  • Explain how currently that position isn’t on the company profile.
  • Show your learnings from that role & optimism towards a better career.
  • Describe your careful selection of a company before applying.

Sample

My previous employer decided to eliminate the position I was assigned in my previous company due to major cost-cutting decisions.

Though the decision came as a shock to me, I was optimistic about looking for the right job in a company with a better job security.

I have been looking for a company like yours wherein job security is given prime importance.

The position you are hiring for fits best within my skillset & preference.

Also Read: How to Apply for Jobs Online- 14 Smart Hacks

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3. Problems with the culture of the workplace

  • Describe exact problems with workplace culture.
  • State your efforts to bring your problem in the notice of management.
  • Explain the inefficiency of the management to address the problem or not provide a satisfying solution.
  • Describe your specific job-seeking approach.
  • Explain how you are a fit for this job.

Sample

In my previous organization, the work-life balance was one of the worst I had experienced.

Shifts lasting up to 12 hours, no off on weekends, no appreciation to quality work & abusive boss.

Though I tried to reach to higher management to bring
these issues in their notice, all was in vain.

When no option seemed to remain, I had to quit my job.

Since then I have been careful in selecting the right companies with a great work-life balance on websites like AmbitionBox before applying.

This company has the best work-life balance & the role you are hiring for fits perfectly within my skillset & preference.

There can be many more reasons for a gap in employment depending on an individual basis.

Hacks to hide employment gap from resume

These hacks can help you hide your employment gap in your resume.

Use them smartly & they might prove to be a game-changer!

  1. Mention years in a resume than specific months. For example, rather than specifying (June 2018-December 2019) write (2018-2019).
  2. Use resume formats wherein the dates are in smaller fonts than bolder ones.
  3. Don’t specify all the employers you worked with, namely those worth mentioning.
  4. Add freelancing experience (if any) to demonstrate your willingness to use time productively.

Must Read: Pro Tips to Get Your CV Format Right

An employment gap can prove to be a ditch in the path only when no proper reason is stated for it.

While you apply for an interview ensure that your confidence is high & you are ready to answer any question asked related to it.

Best of luck!

Interview Advice