In recent years, many in the tech industry have faced challenging times due to the impact of COVID-19 or the current layoffs, and downsizing in the tech market. Whether these circumstances directly affected your employment or you consciously decided to take a career break, it's important to recognize that career gaps are common in many people's career journeys and aren’t something to be embarrassed about.
With the right approach, these gaps don't have to hinder your job search. We've supported numerous candidates in similar situations and helped them present themselves more confidently to potential employers.
To increase your chances of success, here are a few recommendations for addressing employment gaps in interviews:
1. Be Honest
It's important to remember that everyone values authenticity and honesty when it comes to addressing employment gaps – whether it was due to a company downsizing, ELT reorg, mat/pat-leave, or caring for an elderly or ill family member.
Lying about your employment gap is just as bad as lying about skills on your resume, as the truth often comes out, and if it does, dishonesty often tarnishes your credibility. This is especially damaging in niche tech communities.
2. Account for the Time
When addressing a resume gap, it's about accounting for the time during that period. If you were consumed with doing a full-time MBA or degree course - indicate that. If you were travelling for 5 months knocking off your bucket list - share that. If you were a teacher at Brainstation, freelancing, or volunteering, showcase these experiences.
3. Be Concise
Provide a clear and concise response to questions regarding your employment gap. If asked, "Why haven't you been working since late 2022?" provide a straightforward, high-level answer like, "My partner and I welcomed our first child in November, and I've been on paternity leave since." Alternatively, you might say, "Our company had a downsizing in December 2022, and I decided to take some time off to travel with my family before resuming my job search in the spring."
If the interviewer wants to delve deeper, allow them to guide the conversation, but always begin with a clear and concise response. In most cases, this approach will usually satisfy the interviewer's curiosity.
4. Be Confident
Practice your narrative with a friend or family member before the interview. Say it so often that you're not struggling to find the right words every time.
This will not only help you refine your response but it also boosts your confidence and ensure you're well-prepared during the interview. The more at ease you are with your narrative, the more convincing it will be. Remember, the goal is to own it.
Avoid appearing defensive or apologizing for the gap in your resume. Instead, be confident and focus on the skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate. Own your resume gap and maintain eye contact, speak clearly, and don’t let the gap define you.
5. Stay Positive
Throughout your job search, it's crucial to stay positive when discussing your employment gap. Avoid negative language or placing blame on external factors. Remember, people hire people, and they tend to hire people they like. Keep a positive attitude, and speak kindly and respectfully about your former employers, even if they downsized you.
Smile and maintain a warm, approachable demeanour while you speak. Additionally, take a moment to thank the interviewers for investing their valuable time to meet with you. Sending brief thank you notes is a thoughtful gesture that further reinforces your professionalism and gratitude.
How to Address Multiple Gaps
If there are multiple gaps and lots of short employment stints (whether your choice or not) you’ll have to fight the perception of being a job hopper. If you’ve suffered a series of unfortunate events, mention that right on your resume as well as during the interview. Be upfront about your situation and reinforce your commitment and excitement to fulfilling the duties within the position and mission of the brand.
Explaining a resume gap doesn't have to be a nerve-wracking experience. With honesty, confidence, and a focus on how your experiences have made you a better candidate, you can turn that gap into an opportunity to shine during your interview. You’ve got this!