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Employment Gaps: What Employers Should Look for and How to Explain Them As a Candidate

Most of us have had some type of gap in employment. In fact, according to a 2019 Monster survey, 59% of all Americans have had an employment gap or gap in their career. As an employer, an employment gap shouldn’t automatically be seen as a red flag, and as a candidate, it shouldn’t be something you are ashamed of. Here are some things employers should look for when looking at employment gaps and here are some ways as a candidate, you can explain your employment gap.

Is the employment gap less than a month?

As an employer, if the employment gap is less than a month, then it shouldn’t be any cause for concern. There could be many reasons that a candidate took a short break. It could often be due to a candidate needing some personal time off to regroup, refocus, and refresh before starting a new venture.

As a candidate, you can bury this time off on your resume by simply not putting exact dates on your resume. This will ensure you are not drawing any unnecessary attention to this period. If asked though, be honest. Most employers would like to hear that you like to enter a new job refreshed and with a new mindset.

Don’t Get Too Personal

As an employer, when asking a candidate about an extended employment gap, it’s vital that you not get too personal with your questions. Employment gaps can often be due to very personal situations, including medical issues for the individual or family members, other family issues including potentially having to resume caretaking responsibilities for a parent or loved one, or even issues obtaining adequate childcare.

As a candidate, you should also avoid diving into too much personal detail as to why you took an extended leave. You can highlight why you took time off, for example, to help with an ailing family member, or raise your children, without going into further, unnecessary details.

Consider The Pandemic

The Pandemic brought in a new era of unemployment. Many employees were forced to leave their jobs due to the Pandemic, whether that be due to lack of childcare, contracting Covid or a loved one contracting the illness, or being laid off due to the downturn in the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate rose to a record high of 14.7% in April 2020. It’s important as an employer to keep in mind that this period was a very abnormal time and to consider all aspects of the Pandemic when looking at a candidate’s resume or interviewing a candidate.

As a candidate, again it’s important to not dive into too much detail. Simply stating that you were laid off due to the Pandemic or had to take a leave of absence due to the Pandemic is an adequate response. You should not feel the need to dive into further detail as to exactly why.

Let’s face it, employment gaps happen! An employment gap shouldn’t automatically disqualify a candidate from the process, and as a candidate, you should be confident in explaining any gap that you may have, without drawing any unnecessary attention to it.

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