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Interview Tips: Discussing Job Gaps in Your Resume

If your resume reveals a long gap between one professional job and another, there's a strong chance that your potential employers will ask you about this during your interview. If and when this happens, keep a few things in mind:

1. This is not an attack or an accusation. There's nothing wrong with departing from the workforce for a while. All normal, healthy, well-adjusted human beings have more going on in their lives than uninterrupted office jobs, and your interviewers know this. They just want a few additional details.

2. Responsible employers are actually negligent if they don't ask you about your gaps.

3. Answering honestly will help you explain yourself to your interviewer and will probably help the two of you form a connection. But while you're being honest, try to frame your words around your potential employer's needs.

Here are a few ways to apply these tips to specific types of job gaps in your resume. Keep these guidelines in mind and consider practicing your responses with a friend or partner a few days before your interview takes place.

Job Gaps Due to Travel

If you left the workforce to travel for a while, your interviewers can interpret this in one of two ways:

A) You're an uncommitted person with a wandering heart who might decide to pack a bag and head off to the Himalayas in the middle of a huge project, or B) you're a brave person with an intelligent, curious mind and a sense of adventure.

Push your interviewers toward the second option by framing your trip as an important learning experience and a necessary part of your development as a person. If you can, discuss your trip in terms of a specific goal. Were you volunteering for a non-profit group? Were you conducting research on a certain subject? If so, don't let this part of your trip go unmentioned.

Job Gaps Due to Family Care

If you left the workforce to care for a parent, a child, a spouse, or anyone else, your employers can also interpret this in one of two ways:

A) You're an uncommitted employee who has the gall to prioritize family and life above company interests, or B) You're an intelligent person with healthy priorities and a strong sense of loyalty to those who depend on you.

Steer your interviewers toward the second option by talking about your choice with pride and certainty. Don't apologize for your life decisions, even by implication.

Your Job Gaps are an Asset—To You AND to Your Potential Employers

No matter how you frame the gaps on your resume or in your interview, make one thing clear: You weren't just lying on the couch watching TV during this time. You were learning valuable lessons other candidates haven't had a chance to learn, accomplishing challenging goals, and becoming the complex, well-rounded person that you are today.

Use the tools and templates on My Perfect Resume to deliver this message in an unmistakable way.

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