Glenford Smith | Explaining the gaps in your resume
QUESTION: How do I explain the gaps in my resume? I have applied for several jobs between January 2017 and January 2018, and in a few interviews I've had to be explain these gaps. Bear in mind that the gaps are not completely empty, as I have volunteered and held temporary or student-related stints. Your advice will be appreciated.
ANSWER: Thank you for your letter. There are several reasons why you can have a gap in your resume. But it's not something to unduly worry yourself about. Just think of it this way: the interviewer wants to understand something and you are providing the necessary clarity. That way, you will be less nervous and be ready to provide an interesting and cogent response.
Don't get trapped in the downward spiral many interview candidates find themselves in. They feel the gaps in their resume are some big obstacle they have to overcome. This makes them nervous and leads them to give an ill-thought-out response to the question. The rest of the interview continues down this path as the candidate remain stuck in a nervous mindset.
Gaps in a person's resume could be due to the candidate having been laid off due to redundancy. They could have stopped working for a child or to tend to a parent's need. Or as is the matter here, you couldn't find a permanent post, despite trying very hard. Whatever the reason, rehearse it beforehand and be comfortable talking about it.
In your case you can answer like this: "You may have noticed I volunteered and did several things as a student. However, the gaps represent those times I have either been searching for jobs or times I've been attending to my mother (for example). However, I'm now fully ready to get back into the thick of the working world. I believe that an opportunity such as the one you're offering is just the kind of chance I'm looking for".
It is absolutely imperative that you be truthful. If you have been looking for a job, just say so. Don't be apologetic about it. Be open and frank about it. Recruiters do not think too highly of a candidate who lies, thinking they won't be found out. You live in a time when almost everything can be found out. Make sure not to equivocate.
Don't assume this is the reason why you do not get any positive responses from the interviews you have taken. There are several good reasons why your candidacy may be rejected by the company. You may genuinely not be the best candidate for the position.
Make sure you are learning from each experience, and don't allow yourself to become discouraged. By keeping an upbeat and enthusiastic attitude, you will be ready when your time comes.
I've seen where candidates who were distraught at an unsuccessful interview were later glad it had not worked out for them. So learn to accept what has happened.
All the best to you.
- Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. firstname.lastname@example.org