You’re trying to get back into the workforce after a long absence. However, you face a challenge, a kind of prejudice. People are reluctant to hire you. The gaps in your resume are scaring away prospective employers.
It can feel like you are back in your early days, just getting started. All the hard work you put in years ago gets ignored, and every interviewer only wants to talk about is the time you took off.
It can be frustrating. Unfortunately, it’s also necessary. Resume gaps throw up red flags for potential employers, so you have to take the time to explain what happened. Your goal is to frame the discussion in a way that makes the time away understandable, while simultaneously turning the conversation back towards your best qualities.
Here are some tips on how to explain the gaps on your resume:
Be Ready to Give an Explanation
Going into an interview situation, be prepared to discuss the gaps on your resume. Don’t get defensive and don’t get caught off guard. When you’ve been away from the workforce for a period of time, you should expect the subject to come up.
Don’t attempt to skirt the issue, hoping the prospective employer won’t notice the gap. (Spoiler alert: they always notice.) Instead, attack the topic head-on, with a well-crafted explanation ready.
Give Honest Answers
There’s no shame in taking time off from the workforce. Plenty of understandable reasons exist to step away from professional life, from raising children to caring for a sick relative to anything else that takes you away from a career.
Whatever your reason, be upfront. Don’t try to hide or evade. Remember your chances of landing a job improve when you make a connection with the people interviewing you. An honest, engaging explanation will help achieve this goal.
Find Value in the Time Away
Just because you were away from the workforce, it doesn’t mean you weren’t accruing experience or learning new skills. On the contrary, your time on the professional sidelines might represent an important set of learning experiences that you will now be able to leverage in your new job. You just need to let your potential employer know about the value you can provide.
This is a matter of communication. Look at the experience you accumulated during the gaps in your professional resume. Determine what applicable skills you gained, and be ready to share that with your potential employer.
Put the Gaps in the Past
Resume gaps signal red flags for employers for a couple of reasons. For one thing, they worry that your skill-set isn’t up to date. For another, they are concerned that you won’t stay committed to their organization, that you’ll get pulled away from professional work again for the same reasons you did before.
Your job is to convince them that these factors won’t present a problem. Let them know how your life has changed, and reassure them that you can make work a significant priority now.
Focus on the Future
Finally, you want to turn the conversation away from the resume gaps you’ve had in the past and toward your prospective future with the company. Find ways to emphasize the value you bring the organization, highlighting the experience you have and the skills you can bring to the table.
Returning to the workforce after a long absence presents a major challenge. It gets easier when you have a partner in the process. Teaming with a top-flight recruiting agency, like DHR, lets you find positions that use your skills and create momentum for your long-term career development.