Gaps in employment history are more common than you might think. Some people take time off to raise a family or travel, while others take off to learn new skills or earn a degree. A gap in employment doesn't have to be an issue, however. You just need to know how to discuss your employment gaps with potential employers when applying for jobs.
How to Address an Employment Gap
Never lie about an employment gap. When an interviewer checks your references and background, there's a good chance they'll find out about any employment gaps you have. You don't want to get caught in a lie, since this can disqualify you as a candidate. Always remain upfront and honest about your work history.
When addressing an employment gap, explain why you were unemployed at the time. Then, explain the reason why you're still the right candidate for the job. For example, if you took time off work to care for your family and during that time, you took online courses relevant to the job you're trying to get, tell the interviewer that you continued your education while unemployed. Hiring managers are generally impressed when candidates keep their skills up to date during periods of unemployment.
Ensure Employment Gaps Aren't Too Obvious
Most interviewers aren't going to ask about a gap in your employment history unless it's blatantly obvious that there was one. As long as you weren't unemployed for over a year, time you've taken off work is fairly easy to conceal by adjusting the date format on your resume. For example, if you were unemployed for six months, list your employment history on your resume in chronological order using only the years you were employed by each company instead of listing the month and year.
Keep in mind though, while adjusting the date format doesn't disclose stretches of unemployment upfront, the interviewer may still discover any gaps you've had when verifying your background. Always make sure you're prepared to address times of unemployment during an interview.
Consider Using a Contemporary Resume Format
If you've had several gaps in your employment history, consider using a functional resume format instead of a chronological one. A functional resume doesn't hide your employment gaps, but it doesn't draw as much attention to them. Instead of focusing on the employment history section, create a resume that starts with a professional summary. Then, create two main sections — a core competency section and a career accomplishments section.
Also, instead of listing your career accomplishments in chronological order, list them in order of relevance to the job for which you're applying. That way, you have an impressive resume to give interviewers that doesn't make stretches of unemployment obvious.
Ultimately, hiring managers want someone who can do the job. Don't worry too much about gaps in your employment history. Instead, focus on providing information that proves you're the right person for the position.