The Gap. It is not just a store selling reasonably priced American apparel, but also a resume nuisance. Any recruiter will tell you that one of the first things they look for are any unexplained spaces in employment history.

There are many reasons people need to take time off from employment, i.e. maternity/paternity leave, personal health issues, or family issues to name a few. If the gap on your resume is addressed upfront and in an honest and skillful way then there should not be any doubts about your commitment to employment. Here are some ideas for explaining that pesky space:

Explain — don’t over explain: A simple “I took two months off in between roles because I was dealing with some health concerns,” suffices. Your potential employer does not need an explanation of what those health issues entail. Some things need to stay private.

Tell them before they ask you: When you are recounting your previous employment during your first call or meeting with the recruiter or hiring manager take the opportunity to address any gaps. For example, if there is a six-month window of time between roles do not wait until the interviewer asks what you were doing during that period of time.

The truth hurts: Sometimes there is not a medical or family reason for your unemployment. Sometimes people get laid-off or fired or they quit because the company was not the right fit. You still need to address this in a diplomatic fashion. A lot of people lost their jobs when the economy took a hit and hiring managers understand this. If you lost your job due to performance, than this needs to be brought up. The world is a small place, and if you do not tell the hiring manager chances are someone else will. If you left on your own accord because it was not the right cultural fit, then do not lambaste the company. There are tactful ways for saying you did not like the company without making yourself look bad.

Any questions? It is okay to ask if the interviewer has any questions or concerns about the time you took off from work. The interviewer will not press in terms of “what were you sick with,” but they may ask if your employer held your position during your leave, or if that employer is a reference now. If you were let go from your role, then explain what happened to the best of your ability without painting yourself in a poor light.

A gap on your resume does not have to be a bad thing. The more prepared you are to speak about it; the better you will present yourself. Don’t get caught off-guard on your own resume!

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