The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

September 01, 2017

How to Deal with Resume Gaps


Resume gaps are periods of unemployment between work. They can occur for whatever reason. As much as you want to have a stellar work history with constant transitions into further growth and success, life can get in the way. Involuntary redundancy or having to step away from work to focus on family, are among the reasons behind a resume gap. Unfortunately, this needs to be on your resume but there’s no reason to fear dealing with responses to it, there are ways to broach the situation in order to turn what may seem like a downfall, into a benefit.

If there is a gap in your resume, be aware that this will be brought up. Anything that is on your resume, or in this case missing from your resume, is fair game for an interviewer to investigate. Pre-empt the resume gap question and prepare a succinct response that will efficiently quell any suspicion they may have. In preparing your response, you can reclaim the situation and ensure that interviewers have the right understanding of you, eliminating any room for doubt. Just as you prepare responses about your previous experience and expectations of the role, prepare to possibly change the minds of your interviewers whom may not merely be indifferent about your resume gap but may have jumped to their own conclusions. Their questions pertaining to the resume gap may also be a test of your ability to handle pressure and furthermore, a chance for you to be diplomatic and honest.

It is essential in an interview, to be honest. There is a difference between positioning yourself in the best light and blatantly lying. Particularly in response to queries of your resume gap, being honest is imperative. Regardless of the fact that employers can easily verify your career history, lying in an interview is never recommended. The truth surfacing after a successful interview or even a job offer may result in it being rescinded or the employer choosing not to proceed with your candidacy. By being honest, you display integrity and confidence to the employer; both very respected and sought after attributes in an employee, so do not underestimate the value of honesty.

Your honesty should be complimented with a positive attitude. Convey to the interviewers that even if the reason for your time off was not positive, you were able to take away something from the experience. Be it insight or skills, let them know that if faced with adversity in the future, you will be able to extrapolate lessons from it. Perhaps you took time off to travel. Prove to employers that the experience was invaluable. They may even take comfort in the fact that you are back from your break willing to tackle the challenges of the workforce, with a fresh perspective on life and work. A resume gap can always be framed as a period of personal or professional growth merely by waxing lyrical rather than being deceitful.

Director of Accounting and Finance Recruitment, Dianne Perlman, “It’s best to be honest without going in to too much detail. If you took time off to travel or tend to a sick family member, that’s fine. If you were let go due to restructuring or a job moving out of town, that’s fine too. But never badmouth your previous employer. If you left because of a negative situation, simply say that it wasn’t the right fit and you chose to focus on your search full-time.”

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