Potential employees have myriads of things to consider during a job interview. One point an interviewer may mention is a long job gap in your employment history. The best ways to work around the employment gap include honesty, brief explanations, activities undertaken during unemployment and positive reactions to the issue.
Honesty is the key with any job interview, and explaining a long job gap is no exception. Tell your potential supervisor precisely what happened and why without going into too much detail. Downsizing, family issues and job dissatisfaction are normal parts of life, and your interviewer should understand this. Plus, the recession of 2007 hit all sectors of the economy, so long bouts of unemployment were the norm for several years. How you handled the downtime presents the perfect opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.
During your brief explanation for this aspect of your employment history, state what happened during the long job gap. For example, even though you were out of work at least you applied to five places per day until your opportunities expired. Once the job interviews ran dry, you volunteered at a local organization, became a stay-at-home spouse, freelanced or took a class. Be sure to mention these activities in your cover letter and/or resume so your future employer has a heads up before the interview. Even better, use your volunteer coordinator or class instructor as a personal reference. You can even brush up on your interviewing skills during your unemployment period.
Tell your interviewer how you left previous jobs that led to the long job gap. A brief sentence or two suffices, unless the interviewer asks for more details. If you were fired for a personal issue, turn it into a positive. Your former manager may tell the current potential employer you had anger issues, difficulty concentrating at work or a lack of production. Turn this into a positive by saying you have worked on these issues since then. You read articles, took yoga classes, learned to relax, worked out twice a week or put aside your lackadaisical attitude. There are several ways to provide a means by which your employer can see you have worked on any personality issues.
Focus on the future of your employment by turning your faults into a success. Reiterate how your past issues turned into learning opportunities you bring to this new job. Explain how the time off from work invigorated your energy to become the best possible employee. Positive attitudes mitigate any negative aspects of a long job gap because employers want positive people working for them.
No one likes to deal with stress in a job interview. How you handle the nervousness may be one key to landing a job or waiting weeks for the next interview. Turning a long job gap into a life-changing opportunity, and explaining this to your potential supervisor in a positive light, removes the negative influence of that experience and turns you into a winner.
Photo courtesy of bpsusf at Flickr.com
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