3 Tips to Conquer Work Gap Questions During Your Job Search

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When applying for new jobs, it’s very common to have a work gap on your resume. A work gap is “any period during your professional career in which you did not have formal employment.” Work gaps can range from a few months to several years and can have a variety of causes. Reasons for a work gap might include: a tough job market, family/childcare obligations, medical/health concerns, military service, mission work, further education, or just straight up needing a break. Regardless of whether your work gap was voluntary or involuntary, you are not alone. According to a 2019 report from Monster.com, 3 out of 5 job candidates have some sort of work gap in their resume. And following the COVID-10 pandemic, work gaps will be more common than ever. So recruiters are not surprised to see a gap in your job history, and a work gap doesn’t need to stop you from getting a new job. The most important thing is to demonstrate your skills developed through prior work and life experiences.

Here are 3 tips for addressing your work gap while on the job hunt.

Tips for Answering Work Gap Questions

Tip 1: Be Up Front and Honest

There’s no telling what could happen if you let recruiters/hiring managers use their imagination to explain your work gap, so be willing to address it yourself. Knowing that work gaps are common, there’s no need to be ashamed of having one on your resume. And there is absolutely no reason to lie about it. A genuine and clear explanation of your work gap will get you a lot farther than trying to make up something you think the interviewer wants to hear.

You don’t need to wait for an in-person interview to explain your work gap. If your work gap is one year plus, address it directly on your resume and LinkedIn profile through a work gap statement.

Tip 2: Emphasize What You Learned

You may have heard about the STAR method for answering interview questions. To summarize, you should explain the SITUATION you were in, your TASK, the ACTION you took, and the RESULT of all that. This method is great for all interview questions but especially when talking about a work gap. The RESULT of your work gap, regardless of the reasons for it, are very important to make clear. What did you learn that can make you a better fit for the company you’re interviewing with?

Some examples of valuable work gap lessons can include things like learning to serve others, learning perseverance, experiencing new cultures or ways of thinking, etc.

Tip 3: Keep It Brief

It’s important to be forthcoming about your work gap, but you don’t want to overshare. As compelling as your reason for taking a break from formal employment may be, you do not want to turn your job interview into a sob story or a pitch for a Disney movie. Address the gap in clear and concise terms once and for all, and then move on.

Whatever your reasons for a work gap, there is no need to fear answering a question about it. Work gaps are more common than you might realize, and the best possible explanation is the honest explanation.

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Meet the Author
De'Vion Hinton
Digital Specialist - The Americas