Interviewing 101: Explaining the Gap on Your Resume

Mind the Gap flickr image by limaoscarjuliet
Mind the Gap flickr image by limaoscarjuliet

From Fortune 100 execs to ex-cons (and sometimes both-trust me I’ve worked with them all) lots of people have gaps in their resumes and have trouble explaining them.  The advice is the same no matter if you’re seeking a high paying executive job or a job driving a semi, tell the truth and be prepared to talk about what you did during that time to continually improve.  Here are a couple of examples:

During the 2008 homebuilding crash, many of my clients were loosing their jobs after 20+ years with their employers.  It took some of them months if not years to get back into the workforce.  That meant every time they interviewed they had to answer questions about what they were doing during that time.  Not to mention that for years to come, they’ll have to answer questions about the gap in their resume in those years.  If you lost your job during the recession, that’s something many people will understand.  However, it’s no excuse to just brush off those couple of years.  Be able to speak to what you did to keep your skills sharp.  Did you volunteer for a nonprofit? Return to school? Take continuing education courses? Pursue a new career?  Be prepared to demonstrate what you were doing and how it helped you move forward.  Employers don’t want to hire people who are perceived as lazy, they want to hire people who go make things happen so be prepared to show them you’re one of the doers.

Homebuilding wasn’t the only thing that crashed in 2008, many of the finance and mortgage people in the country found themselves out of work too.  One of my favorite interviews ever was with a man who I declined to interview multiple times because I thought he was too experienced.  As the recession wore on he remained persistent in his pursuit to interview with me.  When I asked what he’d been doing since loosing his job at a brokerage firm, he replied that he’d taken on two jobs to pay the bills for his family.  The jobs?  One was in retail customer service and the other was in fast food management.  Why?  Because he wanted to continue working, keep his skills sharp, and pay the bills with that rather than unemployment.  I only had a part-time position at the time to offer him but it paid off.  Last I heard he’s still with the company 4 years later and has been promoted multiple times.  He explained the gap in his resume perfectly and was immediately our first choice candidate.

Having a well written resume will also help explain the gap.  A professionally written resume will showcase what you’ve been doing while “minding the gap” in employment.  While funds might be tight during this time, gaining professional help with your resume will make the explaining easier.  To hire Merrfeld, LLC to write your resume contact us at resumes@merrfeld.com

Interviewing 101 is a series of posts to provide interviewing tips and help you answering some of the most common interview questions.  Be sure to check out past posts for more great ideas. 

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