Nobody follows a seamless, unbroken career path. Just doesn't happen. Logically, it follows that everyone will eventually have an employment gap to explain at a job interview. And there's a simple, three-step method to explain this to your potential employer: acknowledge, reassure, and redirect.
Here's how it works:
Describe the situation very briefly and factually, and acknowledge that it is a valid concern. Keep your emotions out of it. Don't be detailed, defensive, or apologetic. Just stick to the facts.
Between 1999 and 2003, I was _____. I can understand that the situation might concern you, Mr. Smith.
Explain what steps you took to resolve the problem that caused the gap. The employer's main concern is that you will turn out to be a bad hire, so reassure them that there is no risk of similar problems in the future.
During that time, I am proud to say that I ____. In retrospect, it was an extraordinary experience that taught me many positive lessons. And now, with that chapter closed, I'm ready to take on my next challenge.
Finish your explanation with a question about the job, or a statement about your more recent accomplishments to steer the conversation back to your positive qualifications for the job at hand.
My ____ experience seems like excellent preparation for the challenges of this position. What are the most important goals you'd like the person who fills this role to accomplish in the first three to six months?
This method is useful whether your issue is a voluntary or involuntary employment gap, a past medical crisis, a criminal record, or anything in between. Basically, any sort of potentially negative news can be addressed in this manner. And remember, you're not alone. No matter what caused that gap in your resume, lots of other people have been in the same situation and gone back to gainful employment. You will, too.
Have you ever convinced an employer to look beyond a gap in your employment history and landed the job? Tell us about your experience.
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