First, take a deep breath—you’re in good company! Many people have experienced unemployment at some point in their career. But this doesn’t change the fact that a potential employer will wonder why you went unemployed—and since it’s their job to make good hiring choices, they may be curious about what happened. But don’t worry. By taking the right actions, a lapse in employment won’t hurt your hiring chances. Just follow this advice from one of the leading providers of jobs in Middle TN—Wood Personnel Services.
Honesty is the Best Policy
First and foremost: don’t lie. A potential employer has the ability to uncover your past anyway, so glossing over an employment gap is never the best choice. However, the way you describe the work gap is key.
You may have taken time off to take care of young children or a sick loved one. Explain what happened and that you weren’t able to be a primary caregiver while also working, but now you’re ready to get back into the workforce.
If you were laid off, simply explain that your position at the company was eliminated, you took time to find the right position for the next step in your career, and you’re excited to put your skills back to work.
If you were fired, this can be the most stressful reason to explain. However, always frame what happened as a learning experience—and never badmouth your former employer. You worked for XYZ Company and the position didn’t work out. But you’ve had time to reflect on what happened and realized there were things you could have done differently. You’ve taken steps to [learn something new, develop more soft skills, etc.] and now you’re excited about new career opportunities.
It will probably be the “elephant in the room,” so you can increase your confidence come interview time by simply preparing what you will say. If the employer doesn’t bring it up, take the initiative to do so. They will respect your honesty and your motivation to do your very best.
Make a Note in Your Cover Letter
If it makes sense, you can also add a short explanation within your cover letter to explain a lapse in employment. This is especially effective if you took time off for family or personal reasons.
While you weren’t formally employed, you may have likely picked up other skills that can be useful on the job. For example, mothers of young children become masters at multitasking. If you took the time to travel the world, you gained an appreciation of diversity and other cultures. Think about all the ways you’ve grown and include this in your interview discussion, or even on your resume.
In Search of Your Next Job?
Check out Wood Personnel! We’ll work with you to understand your career goals and find a new job that fits. To learn more, contact your local WPS office today!