When or if you are laid off from a job or need to take time off for family and health reasons, many of the same concerns come up. You start to wonder how bills will be paid and how long it will take to find a new job. You simply do not know at first.
There is also the concern that employers might think one is simply taking breaks for the sake of not wanting to work. Worse, the fear that skills and experience may become outdated.
So with all these concerns in mind, what do you do during an interview to downplay the possible negative perceptions and make the interviewer see the positive side of your skills and experience?
Honesty is always the best policy. Just remember that your version of honesty must sound positive. Your version of brutal honesty may leave the hiring manager thinking you have emotional issues or that you still have conflicts to deal with before accepting a job.
You do not have to hide the truth. You can explain it with a positive attitude, showing how what you dealt with is in the past and how it has made you wiser and stronger. Being known for having integrity and being able to demonstrate it are character traits that will serve your career in the long run. You may be tempted throughout your career to be deceitful and in the short term, it may seem like a good idea. But in the long term, lies always lead to problems in a career.
A job candidate interviews knowing that the employment gap is quite large. The candidate took time off after a layoff to deal with family health issues. When the job candidate was asked about the employment gap, he explains that he was laid off around the time his mom was diagnosed with cancer.
He then explains that time has passed, it was an education in life and it has made him a better leader and more emotionally mature. The interviewers were not sure how to reply and finally, one person spoke up to say, “I understand what you went through and thank you for your honesty.”
The candidate gave a polished, positive answer and it led to more interviews in the company. Although he was not hired, the employer stayed in touch with the job candidate for future job openings. The reason for doing so: “We need employees with integrity, character, and honesty.”
When you are uncomfortable with the topic, the wrong way to answer is by stuttering and blushing your way through an interview. The lack of preparation will make you appear as if you are still grappling with the reasons for the employment gap or you are not being truthful.
Lots of people will practice rehearsed answers, but the overall problem with doing that is the answer is not prepared with the intention of being honest. Therefore, if your hiring manager starts asking more questions than you expected, you will start to have problems answering. Your story to explain your resume gap will look like one big effort to deceive.
The best way to prepare to be honest is to practice explaining your resume gaps until you are sick of talking about them. The minute you get over your fears, the better you will be able to explain the gaps.
Confidence is a byproduct of preparation and being honest. You get over your fears of discussing how you became unemployed the more you commit to preparing and being honest.
If you were let go or fired, do not panic. Resume gaps are pretty common, especially given the length of time it takes to find work and the unstable economy that has been in place since 2008. If you interview at a company that does not understand why you were laid off or fired, be confident that you should not be working there.
Explaining resume gaps is an uncomfortable situation, so be prepared for whatever comes your way and have confidence in your skills.