Explaining away a period of unemployment, be it short or long, is a daunting task. Don’t worry! You are not the only one with a career break. The break could have been for any number of reasons. But the fact remains that there is an employment gap in your resume. Expect to be quizzed on this gap in employment. Know that most recruiters will be sympathetic and willing to give you a chance to get back into the game.
You can start getting ready by strengthening your resume. Once your resume passes muster, you will have to explain your reasons in the interview. What you should NOT do is justifying your decision. Another thing to remember is DON’T overshare. The HR interviewer has no vested interest in your personal life.
How can you answer this question without putting yourself in a bind?
The key is to prepare an answer. Practice it well and do not be nervous.
- Honesty is the best policy. Don’t lie about the facts to the interviewers. They are trained to catch you in a lie, be it oral, by omission, or body language. If you WERE laid off or fired, mention it in passing and talk about how you could have been a better employee in retrospect. It does not matter if you did not part ways with your previous employer with goodwill or not.
- Don’t prattle. In your nervousness, don’t become hasty and start running your mouth. Be confident in your speech and body language.
- Don’t justify your absence. It is your decision and you are not answerable to the interviewer. Offering a clear explanation is way different from justification.
- Hopefully, you did not completely stop doing any sort of work or learning in the period where you were not employed. If you did any certifications or courses, maybe even learnt a new language highlight them. Talk about any of the above options.
- Emphasize on why you chose this time to get back to work.
- Don’t mention full-time gigs if they lasted less than 3months. This only makes you look bad.
Acknowledge that there is a gap in your employment. Discuss this confidently with your employer. If the conversation turns uncomfortable for you, then subtly change the topic by going over your previous experience and achievements. Stress on the fact that even though you were unemployed, you were doing productive stuff.