Dealing with a career gap often causes us stress. We worry it reflects negatively on us and this can tap into self-doubt. The good news is more and more people recognize that layoffs happen, life happens. Still, you will need to explain your absence and may encounter skepticism or hesitation. The best way to overcome this is through preparation.
Don’t rush through discussing your career gap with a prospective employer, but don’t dwell on it either. You don’t want to seem evasive or defensive, nor do you want to seem insecure or apologetic. Move through it, move past it, and make the most of this opportunity. Remember, they called you in for a reason!
Here are three important things to keep in mind when addressing a career gap so you can ace the interview:
- Exude Confidence
Practice and refine what you will say so you can address the career gap succinctly and with confidence.
- Why did it occur? Stick to the facts, be honest but don’t get into a lot of personal details.
- Identify good things you accomplished in your life or lessons learned during this time. Speak about volunteer or civic involvement, freelance work, new strengths or self-awareness.
- Restate where you are now and what your goals are.
- Establish Credibility
Anticipate concerns. Address your readiness for the role and re-entering the workforce.
- Thoroughly research the current state of the industry. What tools, skills or common practices may have changed since you left the workforce?
- How have you kept up-to-date? (Journals, conferences, networking, training.)
- Be knowledgeable about the company and the role.
- Demonstrate Capability
Be confident about what you bring to the table. Your career gap is not the most important part of your work history just the most recent.
- Focus on your strengths, your successes and the qualities that make you uniquely suited.
- Focus on shared values and fit.
- Be ready for behavioral interview questions and use the STAR technique for responding so you can showcase your skills, ability and past accomplishments.
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