Explaining Gaps in Employment

Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash

I know what you’re thinking. Now that you have got a job-interview (or interviews), you’re frustrated when the thought of some gaps popping up on your marketing too l- résumé. You know that recruiters are bound to ask about them. And that has already destroyed your appetite and stolen sleep from your eyes.

As noted by Arlene S. Hirsch, “Nothing in life taxes your flexibility quite like interviewing”.

It’s quite normal, though, to feel a little unease. After all this is what any job hunter looks forward to. Word of advice: remember it’s just a professional talk not a life-and-death situation. So relax a bit. Drink some water.

Many people are scared that an interviewer is going to discover that they were without a job for a period of time.  It is not necessarily a bad thing, but you do have to be able to tell the interviewer why in the best possible light. Those gaps cannot and should not be treated as handicaps that threaten your chances of getting your dream job.

So, now that that is settled, remember as you prepare for this opportunity, be prepared to discuss your resume.  In addition to explaining why you left previous companies and chit chat about the position, if you have any gaps in employment be prepared to explain them.

One danger that an unsuspecting job-hunter can do at this point is to cook-up lies, in hopes of coming out on top. The unfortunate thing about this approach is that recruiters are not as foolish and will find out very quickly that they’ve been lied to.

You should always be honest when explaining any absence from working, but you do have license to spin what you did do in the best possible light.

For instance, if you were laid of your job and had a hard time finding a replacement but spent a lot of time with your children you could say, “I took an opportunity to spend a few months with my children in between jobs.” 

If you took any courses or classes that adds value to your skills as an employee be sure to mention that as well.  You may find it beneficial to add a brief explanation on the resume itself or in a cover letter.  Most times it is hard to get to an interview if there is a lengthy and unexplained employment gap.

If you are unsure what possible questions could be generated from your resume, have another person look at it. Begin a mock interview.  It is best to be prepared for certain questions and scenarios that will likely come up in an interview.  You do not want to be caught unaware or floundering for an answer. 

In conclusion, give yourself time to figure out the best explanation for times of unemployment so an interviewer sees it as reasonable or even beneficial to them in the case of additional education and classes.


Teboho is a Social Worker, Writer and Inspirational Speaker. He is in pursuit of MSc. in Managerial Psychology. Graduates are able to apply psychological principles and methods to tackle challenges in the work environment and provide effective practical solutions. Acting as industrial-organizational psychologists.