The economy has been chugging along at a steady pace over the past several years, and finding employment has become easier for many job seekers. However, there are still times when there may be gaps in a job applicant’s employment history.

Whether this is due to the loss of a job, an opportunity to make money through freelancing and alternative sources, or the decision to go back to school, this can often be seen as a negative by prospective employers. So, what can you do to counteract this and make a potential employer comfortable in hiring you? We’re going to explore this in a two-part blog and here are the first set of tips:

Be Up Front About the Gap

The best way to tackle the employment gap in your history is to be up front about it. An employment gap on your resume will be clear as day, so your best bet is to simply tackle the issue head-on. Being ready with proper and clear responses to the questions of what you were doing during that time and what you accomplished will do wonders to help a potential employer look past the gap.

Resist Coming Up with Excuses

When something that could be seen as negative comes up in discussion, many people fall back on making excuses as to why this or that happened. These excuses do nothing to impress a potential employer and could, in fact, keep you from getting the job. Instead of trying to come up with excuses, be forthright in explaining why the gap occurred and how you made the most of it.

Highlight Your Accomplishments

A basic rule of thumb in any resume or during an interview is to focus on the positive, even when something may seem to be negative. We’re guessing that your employment gap did not consist of you sitting around and watching TV all day, and your potential employer will want to know what you were up to during that time. This is actually a great opportunity for you to show a hiring manager that even when times are rough, you’re able to make the best of a bad situation. Or, if your gap was intentional as a way to gain more education or workable skills, make sure you concentrate on that.

Focus on the Importance of Education

If part or all of your employment gap consisted of you gaining a better level of education or more workable skills so that you would be more employable in the future, that is definitely something that you should bring up. Hiring managers love to know that their potential employees have the forethought and ability to better themselves, and this can definitely give you a leg up on the competition.

Be Ready to Explain A Gap Due to Incarceration

This is one topic that both employers and potential employees often dread most. People simply don’t want to discuss certain wrongdoings, especially if they were felonies. That being said, since employers will be running a criminal background check, there’s absolutely no way around discussing a gap in your employment that was the result of incarceration, so you definitely want to be prepared for this conversation. What you want to focus on is how your wrongdoings are now in your past and, if applicable, discuss the accomplishments you made while in prison. In other words, give the hiring manager a reason to give you a second chance.

A gap in employment doesn’t mean you’ll never find work again. If you find the good in it, you’ll impress hiring managers and be on your way to employment once again. Make sure to take a look at part two of this blog for more tips on standing out and making the most out of a gap in employment. To learn more about the background screening process, take a look at our resources.