Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of ups and downs in the economy that have caused unemployment gaps to occur, often for extended periods of time. Some people have also caused these gaps themselves by going back to school to further their education or gain workable skills that make them more attractive to prospective employers.
The problem is that when a potential employer sees one of these unemployment gaps on your resume, it often sends up a red flag. How can you counteract this negative feeling? We’ve compiled a list of ten tips that will help you make the best of this situation. We started with the first set of five tips in our last blog, and now we’re going to wrap things up.
Don’t Make Up Lies to to Fill in the Gap
The last thing you want to do when you have a gap in your employment is to make up lies about it. As we've covered in the past, lying on your resume and especially during the interview process is a one-way ticket to the unemployment line. You always want to present yourself as truthful and honest, especially since one lie often leads to another. Being straightforward about the gap, no matter the reason for it, will always be the better tactic.
Speak About Downsizing and Layoffs, But Exercise Caution
If you’ve experienced a layoff or had your job cut due to downsizing, then you should obviously discuss it with a potential employer. However, it is important that you don't use it to gain sympathy or as an excuse. Most employers will already empathize with your situation because he or she probably knows many people who have experienced similar issues. So, there is no reason for you to indulge in an extended conversation about it.
Discuss Your Tenacity Toward Side Jobs
In the past, having an employment gap often meant that the majority of your time was spent looking for a new job, going to school, or getting more skills. Many people these days, however, use this time to bring in a little extra money by tackling a side job. If you drove a car for Uber, delivered groceries, walked dogs in your neighborhood, or house-sat for vacationing families, be sure you mention it in your interview. The hiring manager will be impressed that you stayed active and did whatever was necessary to make ends meet until you could find steady employment.
Make Sure That You Can Pass a Drug Test
During a gap in employment, with a less rigid schedule, it can be tempting to distract yourself with drinking, smoking, or even using drugs. After all, you don't have any employer to concern yourself about, so why not relax and get a small amount of enjoyment out of a bad situation? However, a potential employer may ask that you pass a drug test, so when you're up for a job, make sure that if you have imbibed a bit, that you you refrain from doing so before (AND after, for that matter) being tested. In some instances, it might even be prudent to pay for your own drug test in advance of your job search so you are confident of the results.
Explain That You’ve Kept Up on Your Given Industry
If the job you're applying for is connected with your chosen field or industry, the hiring manager will be impressed if you've kept up on the current industry trends and events. If you can demonstrate that you are ready to jump back in even after a long employment gap, this will impress upon them that you would make an outstanding employee. And if you haven't kept up, be sure that you research the industry before filling out your resume and definitely before you walk into that interview.
With these tips in mind, a gap in employment should never hinder you from excelling at an interview and landing a job. Just be sure to do your due diligence and check all your boxes before being hired - background screening and drug testing are services built to keep you, your potential employer, and your potential coworkers safe. If you have questions about how the screening process works, check out our resources.