During interviews discussing a career gap can feel like the elephant in the room for job candidates and sometimes even causes nervousness or anxiety. This person could have been a stay-at-home parent looking to work again, maybe taken a sabbatical for a career change, fired, laid off, and the list of situations goes on. The object is not to let the interviewer focus on why you have the gap but what you did during that time that prepared you for that role.
It sounds easy, but that is not always the case. Being honest and upfront in your interview is a priority, but it does not mean giving out your life story and struggles. That will work against you in most cases. The goal is: to be honest and straight to the point, not saying more than what is needed. A stay-at-home parent’s resume might state (Stay-at-home parent, Houston, TX 2009-2011). When asked about that time, explain it by how you used that time. For example, “during that time of managing the household, I obtained professional certification in human resources. She acknowledges the gap and keeps the attention on her accomplishments. Simple, honest, and straight to the point is always the way to go. In these types of open-ended questions, it is also good to include skills you have learned during this time like time management, problem-solving, various communication styles, but only the skills related to the position you are applying for. The key for these types of interviews is how you approach them. Do you have a positive or negative mindset before you walk into the room? Prepare to talk about the experience, and don’t rely on hoping the employer never asks about any gaps.
Sometimes the only difference between a positive and negative experience is the mindset of the situation. There is no question that COVID-19 has affected the job market globally. Some may have told you I lost my job during the pandemic, but that afforded me to go back to school, get my business off the ground, spend more time with family, etc. Anyone can look at the situation and say what was lost, but having a positive mindset is 100% more beneficial. The same idea goes for career gaps: whether they start positive or negative, the deciding factor is how you see it. During interviews and on your resume, what did you learn, gain, and accomplish during this three-month or three-year gap?
We all have skills acquired over time, whether from babysitting, fast food, or any other previous occupation; the challenge is explaining them. The ability to know your skills, elaborate on your skills, and know which skills apply for that position. Research that next position, see what exactly they are looking for, and adjust your resume accordingly. Workforce Solutions has virtual job search seminars every other week where we discuss how to prepare for an interview and edit a resume according to a job posting. Also, visit https://www.wrksolutions.com/for-individuals/job-search for more information about functional resumes.
Joshua Allmon is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston Region. Before joining the team, Joshua served as a resource specialist helping customers get back into the workforce by reviewing current labor market information, job-readiness skills, and community resources. Joshua’s continued driving force is to help customers get a job, keep a job, or get a better job by conducting job skills seminars throughout the 13 counties of the Gulf Coast region. He holds a B.A. in Marketing and a Minor in Business Management from Grambling State University.