So you’ve got some gaps in your resume? Maybe you had a false start after graduating school, or you had to drop out because of family issues, or you lost your job and found it hard to pick right up again. Whatever the reasons we drop off for a little while, they can impact our confidence as we search for a job. Having gaps doesn’t necessarily make you worse off than the other candidates, but you can be smart about how you address these gaps in an interview.
1. You lost your job, and it wasn’t amicable.
It can be really difficult and embarrassing to talk about getting fired, but no matter what happened there, there are positive lessons you can speak about to show your future employer how great you’ll be for their company. Make sure not to badmouth your previous company, boss or coworkers, but focus on what you achieved or learnt while you were there. You can do this even if you left on bad terms!
“The work sucked and my boss had it in for me from day one! I would’ve left anyway, they didn’t deserve to have to work for them”
“Unfortunately I was laid off from this job, due to changes in the company structure. While I was there, I learnt a variety of skills that will help me in this role [the one you’re applying for]. This included [insert relevant skills] communication with other team members, managing an individual workload and being punctual to work and meetings.”
2. You had health issues and had to take time off
Your future employer doesn’t need a play-by-play of how your mental health prevented you from working or why a stupid accident left you needing surgery. It’s not that they don’t care where you’ve come from, but that they need to know where you’re at now. Prepare a concise and straightforward explanation that you are comfortable to share with them. Make sure you speak about how proud you were to overcome these health issues but don’t dwell too much on what was and move on to what you can bring to their business now.
“Yeah stuff was really bad, I had depression and couldn’t leave the house, I attempted suicide 5 times and I really didn’t want to do anything. I’m still struggling with this.”
“I took some time out [or ‘I was slow to get into the workforce’] to focus on my health and [learn strategies to manage my mental health/go through rehab after an operation]. Now I’m ready to get [back] into the workforce. The challenge to overcome these health issues has made me a stronger and more resilient person, so I know I can tackle the challenges in this role and achieve.”
3. You had to take care of your family or had family pressure to stay out of work
Family is a huge thing, and helping them out is a tough job that builds a huge range of skills you can now use in whatever job you get! No future employer should fault you for taking care of your family or sticking by them. The loyalty to put others before yourself only reflects well on you. Make sure you tell your interviewer how excited you are to commit yourself to your job now that you can.
“I was forced by my family to stay home to look after my Dad after the accident. It was a pain cos I only had to cos no one else wanted to.”
“Due to the situation with my parent/grandparent/child, I decided being home to care for them was my top priority. I learnt lots of skills during this time, including how to push through challenges and get things done. Now I’m in a position to move into work and I’m looking forward to applying these skills and experiences in the workplace.”
Don’t forget – it’s never a good idea to lie on your resume and pretend you haven’t been out of work for a period. Embrace your history with grace and be positive about how you are moving forward!