How to Explain Unemployment Gaps on a Resume

How to Explain Unemployment Gaps on a Resume
How to Explain Unemployment Gaps on a Resume

How to Explain Unemployment Gaps on a Resume

The application and hiring processes are serious procedures that a job seeker must complete and pass. And in a company, the HR department and specialists handle these processes. As recruiters, encountering significant gaps in an applicant’s record is discouraging, especially those left unaddressed. But, a gap in employment doesn’t necessarily mean that the job applicant wouldn’t make a great fit for the company. Read on to learn more. 

Common Reasons for Unemployment Gaps 

Unemployment gaps are big red flags for recruiters and companies. There are many reasons applicants mention when asked why they have an unemployment gap in their resumes. As HR managers, you need to consider and acknowledge it. As part of your job, you may encounter reasons such as: 

  • Health issues that required medical attention
  • Started their own business
  • Got terminated and haven’t found another job since then
  • Traveling
  • Going back to school to study again
  • Taking care of sick family members
  • Difficulty in landing a job right after graduating from college

Primary Strategies for Explaining an Unemployment Gap

Explaining unemployment gaps might feel overwhelming or embarrassing, but it is entirely necessary. When job applicants are able to explain the unemployment gap, they’ll have a better chance of getting the job. Here are some strategies for explaining an unemployment gap as pain-free as possible. 

  • Be prepared. Questions are always inevitable when you have a gap in your resume. An explanation should always be ready to be told. 
  • Be clear but concise. Any explanation must always be clear so there won’t be any misunderstandings. However, too many or very few details would be a problem. Brief descriptions are enough. 
  • Be honest. The golden rule: honesty is the best policy. Whatever the reason is, an applicant must never hide or lie about it. That’s why you’re given a chance for an explanation. Being honest shows integrity. 
  • Show that you’re serious. Implications of sincere interest are always a good thing when explaining. 

Going Into Detail on Unemployment Gaps 

The hiring process isn’t a straightforward process where after submitting a resume, an applicant can easily earn an interview schedule. It doesn’t work like that. As recruiters, an HR specialist carefully reads and studies every resume sent to them to gain insight into their potential candidates. 

Aside from strategies and tips for explanations, having a proper explanation is the most crucial part. Without a proper one, any employer can easily assume the worst. And this is the best explanation: honest, clear, and concise. This can be done in the application process or during the interview and through verbal communication or writing. 

As the human resource team, you must be patient and understanding to hear out an applicant’s explanation. How to explain an unemployment gap? Simple. By being upfront with the reason and providing enough details that are significant and related to this reason. 

For example, for reasons such as taking care of a sick family member, timid explanations won’t do. Besides, this reason is nothing to be ashamed of. An upfront explanation is enough, such as who was sick, what role you had there, and more brief yet concise details. 

Additional Ways to Explain an Unemployment Gap on Your Resume

Like we’ve mentioned, explanations can be done in two different ways - through verbal communication or writing. Aside from an interview session, as HR specialists, you may encounter cover letters submitted together with some resumes. 

Cover letters are tools that can help explain and provide more details and information that can’t be easily found in the resume. A cover letter can contain the period with a brief yet enough explanation about what caused this break in employment. 

For example, in a cover letter, you can find the gap with a specific period - like unemployed for four years. And below this reason is a short explanation such as going back to school and additional details like which school or degree. It’s a brief explanation, but the purpose is achieved and present. 

Addressing the Gap During an Interview

Gaps are always questioned during interviews. This is where most applicants explain the reasons behind their unemployment gaps - and this is the most nerve-wracking method of explaining for some job seekers. But, the main method of explaining remains the same: with a clear, honest, and concise explanation. Additional tips in explaining during an interview include: 

  • Avoid stammering or stuttering while explaining. This can affect how the interviewer can understand the explanation. Also, by avoiding this, it shows that the explanation is nothing but true. 
  • Be confident. This can be done by speaking and sounding like an applicant has carefully chosen which job to apply for and only focuses on what they think is fit and suitable for them. This sounds better than sounding like no other company was interested in hiring the applicant.
  • Prepare supporting details or documents. This is a tip most useful for applicants with reasons related to health or studies. As interviewers, you can ask for supporting documents or evidence that can prove that their explanation is true. 
  • Leave out unimportant or unnecessary details. Saying too much isn’t liked by many interviewers. 

Be Understanding of Employment Gaps 

As recruiters and interviewers, you have to deal with every applicant and review every resume sent to you. This takes a lot of time and effort but is needed to see who is qualified. There is so much more to do than question unemployment gaps - which is why using an HR platform like Lanteria can be a lifesaver. With features like candidate tracking, candidate self-service, and interview templates, Lanteria is the ultimate tool in any HR manager’s kit. Reach out today for a demo!



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