For one reason and another, you decide to take some time off from working. Now that you are ready to go back to the world of work, you’re wondering: how do I explain the time I spend not working?
The time gap you spend not working for anyone, or in other word: unemployed, is referred to as an employment gap. There are reasons why some people have gaps in their resume, such as recovering from illness, family and personal issues, pursuing a higher education degree or, unfortunately, struggling to find a new job after retrenchment. Many believe that an employment gap is something to be ashamed of and, if possible, hidden away from a resume. This is due to fear that recruiters often find an employment gap not so desirable. However, is an employment gap something to omit or admit instead?
To begin with, an employment gap does not necessarily have a specific range of period. It can vary from merely a few weeks, several months, to a couple of years. Different periods of gap surely require different ways to explain. For example, it is easier to explain two months of gap in your resume than to explain 11 months of it.
Hiring managers might judge candidates with an employment gap negatively, such as not having adequate skills that makes them jobless, or having a bad attitude that they got fired. It is also believed that having an employment gap means someone might be out of touch with the industry for a while, so their expertise could be outdated. Despite all of these, you should not worry about having a gap. It is important to acknowledge that not all gaps are caused by laziness or reluctance to work hard. Depending on what the true cause is, hiring managers will tolerate an employment gap, as long as you can provide solid reasons
Nonetheless, a gap, for whatever reason it is and for how long it exists, is still a gap and it owes an explanation instead of being kept hidden. Assuming that you have an employment gap due to unfortunate circumstances and not because you are too lazy in job seeking, here are two things you can do about an employment gap.
During your employment gap, make sure you use that time to upgrade your current skills and learn new skills. Acquiring new skills is something that could make a difference in your resume, so you can try taking free online courses where you can obtain an e-certificate. You can attach this along with your explanation about your employment gap in your resume. Another activity during your period of being unemployed can also be something that involves volunteering. Thus, write this experience down in your resume. In other words, the time you spend not working for others is the time you work on yourself by getting yourself equipped with more skills, which can actually make up for the gap in your employment.
2. Convey it on cover letter
Leaving recruiters to guess the reason behind an employment gap will only evoke negative assumptions. Therefore, it is advised to provide an explanation about this gap. If you cannot do this on your resume, then briefly explain it in the cover letter. You can write a desirable explanation by convincing recruiters that you are a competitive candidate for the position. In addition, you can also emphasize that your skills are not negatively affected by the employment gap.
When it comes to the employment gap, honesty is the best quality that you can offer to recruiters. Avoid leaving negative assumptions by not acknowledging the gap in your employment history. Be ready to come up with reassurance that you are still worth hired, despite your time being away from employment at a certain point. Having these said, why omit when you can just admit?