The resume gap. It’s something employers hate and job seekers dread discussing. Nonetheless, you need to understand how to properly address it if you have one on your resume. Here’s everything you need to know.
Why Employers Hate Gaps
The main reason is simply because many hiring managers assume the worst once they see that a candidate has an extended period of unemployment. “People have great imaginations,” says Orville Pierson, author of The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search. “If employers see a gap in employment, they might assume you were incarcerated, an addict or just plain lazy.”
A hiring manager doesn’t know you, and they may have a tendency to think candidates weren’t employed for a negative reason. So even if you were doing something positive like volunteering or took some extended time off to travel, their initial reaction could be a bad one.
Is a Gap an Automatic Deal Breaker?
In most cases, no. Just because you have a gap on your resume, it won’t automatically disqualify you from getting a position. This is especially true for older gaps that happened more than seven years ago. However, you need to know how to explain the situation and smooth it over with a hiring manager, which brings us to our next point.
How to Address a Gap
It’s simple. You need to be truthful about it. Pierson says that once you explain yourself and provide a bit of context, the imagined worst-case scenario instantly goes away. So don’t dance around it. Instead, be transparent so the employer knows that you have nothing to hide. If the resume gap was because of something positive like volunteering, this can greatly increase your odds of landing the job. Of it’s something less flattering, the employer should at least appreciate your honesty.
Once you’ve explained yourself, there are two more things you should do. First, share what your experience taught you and how it’s helped you grow as a person and an employee. Second, let the hiring manager know why you won’t have any additional employment gaps in the future. Do that successfully, and you should put the employer’s mind at ease.
While having a gap on your resume isn’t ideal, it’s certainly something that can be overcome. It’s just a matter of understanding an employer’s mindset and facing it head-on.
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