If you’ve been out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, you are not alone. Most employers understand that 2020 was a crazy year and aren’t likely to hold a recent period of unemployment against you. But what if you have an earlier gap on your resume? Here’s how to explain a resume gap during a job interview.
Prepare in advance to tell the story of what happened. Tell the truth in simple terms, without overdramatizing the situation or adding irrelevant details. Always end with a positive spin that explains what you learned and how you have applied those lessons since then. For example, if you were fired, state simply that your expectations didn’t match those of the company, but that you’ve realized since then how important it is to [be flexible, be a team player, whatever seems most relevant], and recently you [insert your latest big accomplishment that shows your personal growth and increased responsibility].
Fill the Gap
Time away from the workforce isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Did you take a class? Travel? Did you do temp work? Raise small children or care for an ill family member? Explain what you were doing during the gap, and how it has increased your ability to be a strong employee now. If you remained in touch with your colleagues or otherwise maintained ties to your industry during that time, be sure to mention it.
Keep It Short
Most employers aren’t interested in judging whether your explanation is “good enough.” They simply want to know why the resume gap exists and what you were doing while you weren’t working. So don’t feel obligated to keep talking. It’s reasonable for the interviewer to ask a follow-up question or two. But if you feel like you’re being grilled, or like the interviewer can’t move on, the position may not be the right fit for you.
A large portion of the workforce has had a period of unemployment during the pandemic, so don’t worry about trying to explain it. But if you have a previous unemployment gap, simply tell the truth, focus on what you did with your time and what you learned, and move on. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.
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