iPrep In Pieces
Explaining Gaps in Your Employment History
"I have noticed that you have been out of work for over six months. Can you explain this
break in employment?"
How will YOU answer this?
This question was posted on LinkedIn several months ago and there have been quite a few responses.
I will not bore you with them all, rather, I will highlight the answers that I found to be most interesting.
These are not necessarily the right or the wrong answers. Some say that the answer depends on why
you left your last job and what happened to the company that you left. Most responses said that the truth
is the best answer but it was also said that the truth may not be the right answer.
In a quote from Dawn Pugh, posted 6 months ago,
“Yes, the truth is the best way to answer this question. However, this is the second “Great Depression” and if
someone in a company or a recruiter for that company demonstrates to me that they are not aware of the
economic situation out there facing over 26 million people in the United States, I would be very concerned about
the viability of that company. This is a time of change; the world cannot go back to the way it was. Going forward
has to be different and it starts with companies behaving with maturity which means acknowledging the reality
that qualified individuals have been severely impacted by the recession. Lack of that acknowledgement should be
a warning to anyone seeking employment with a company.”
You have to decide for yourself how you will answer this question in your interview. Realize that what
they are looking for is an answer that reflects positively on you. They want to know how you used this
time to benefit yourself or others and how that will affect your future employment with them. However you
decide to answer, plan it and rehearse it because you will be asked and you will look unprepared if you
cannot answer directly.
• I used the downtime to get re-certified and re-Inspired to commit to a permanent role such as this
that we are discussing.
• I am very selective about the company (industry, position, location, etc.) that I want to work with. As
you know it's a tough job market so there have been very few opportunities that match my career
objective for me to pursue. However, I would rather take the time to find the right position with the
right company than make a mistake and have to start all over again.
• I have used this time to brush up (or learn) a new skill and now I am ready to contribute my
knowledge and expertise to a viable company such as yours.
• I tried retirement, and it's not for me. I am a do-er and like to be active. I feel I have many more
years of productivity left.
• I am looking for something different. I am fortunate to be in a position to take time to make sure this
job is right for both of us.
• I quit to spend some much needed time with my family. I had the financial resources to travel and
• I have spent the time to further my education and I am working to obtain a degree through a highly
respected school, online so to continue with my education will not interfere with my employment.
• I'm fortunate enough to take some time off and do some research on my next career move.
• The first month and a half I really did not do a whole lot. I took time off to rest, relax and rejuvenate.
From then on it was preparation, preparation and preparation!.
• I did take a 6 month break and just got back to working.
• Since the economy was struggling and sales was looking bleak, I decided to quit my job, spend
some time with my parents in my home country and got trained on some new skills - enjoyed the
break, returned recharged.
• "I took the opportunity to decompress, refocus, and re-energize - so I could come back into the
workforce and really be excited about my daily work. It's not often you get the opportunity to stop
and take a look around at your life - and I'm glad I got the chance. Now, I'm ready to go - and I'd
love to get started right here..."
• I took off XXXX months to recoup mostly from working 80+hours a week with really no vacation for
several years and have now decided to start looking.
• I am using this time to double up on classes to finish my degree.
• I am studying for a certification and taking classes at the Career Center to increase my personal
edge. I believe in using this time to gain as much knowledge and perspective as I can while
looking for my next job.
• I used my time to learn new skills. I also started an Internet forum and developed a web-site to
promote a philosophy and internet sales.
It was also said that the main “reason that anyone gets hired is because the interviewer likes the
candidate, period. If one is honest and upfront during an interview and there seems to be chemistry
between the two, the gap doesn't really matter. It is a question of selling yourself to the best of your
ability. Focus on how you bring value to them.”
While I do not necessarily agree with all of these answers, they do all point to one common element.
That is that the right answer is to show that you have not "wasted" this time. That you have used it
productively. Unfortunately, it’s a tough market out there so try not to be negative. The interview
process involves the art of perception. Lying won't work.
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