How to explain gaps in employment

How to explain gaps in employment

If you have gaps in your employment it can sometimes be difficult to explain these in an interview.

Your interviewer may probe with questions that challenge your reasons for not working, our your motivation or commitment.

Here at the Job Search Bible we’re lucky enough to work with 3 job search and career experts (you can meet them here) to provide an ‘Ask the Experts’ feature.

The latest question put to our experts is:

I have some gaps in my employment – how should I explain those in an interview?

And here are their expert answers…

Jonathan Burston

Jonathan Burston

Interviewers hate gaps.

And the first time they’ll see them is on your resume / CV. If you do have gaps on your resume / CV you can almost certainly guarantee an interviewer will ask you about them.

So the first question is:

Why have you got those gaps?

There are often justifiable and appropriate reasons. Don’t try to hide away from them. You will get caught out.

List the reasons why you’ve got those gaps plus what you learnt from that period of time. There are always valuable lessons we can learn from a gap.

The most common gap is looking for a new role. But, looking for a new job isn’t a 24/7 activity, so use the time you have available wisely. So when you’re not looking for jobs invest in your personal development.



What do you need to develop about yourself?

Are there new skills you want to develop or weaknesses you need to overcome. Then make a plan to invest in yourself. This will go down well with an interviewer.

It shows that you are personally developing yourself.


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Karin Schroeck-Singh

Karin Schroeck-Singh

This is quite a tricky question because it depends on your personal circumstances which can vary from person to person.

  • Are your gaps over months or years?
  • Are there any valid reasons for them (e.g. did you have to care for someone, did you look after your new born kids, did you have serious health issues, etc.)?
  • Or did you struggle a lot to find new job opportunities?

Whatever your situation is, try to focus on the productive things you did during that time and sell it to a hiring manager in a ‘positive’ way.

Tell the interviewer that you used your time to do something constructive.

For example, attending a course, teaching yourself a new skill, trying to overcome a personal weakness, starting a blog in which you share your passion / knowledge / expertise, doing some charity or community work, etc.

Even if you had occasional gaps (for whatever reason) make sure you can prove to a hiring manager that you used your time effectively and in a way that might benefit you in your next job.


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Anne Wallman

Anne Wallman

I’m a believer in being up-front and honest about potential problems. Get the gaps out in the open.

Make sure you have good explanations for the gaps. If you were out of a job by choice explain what the choice was and make sure the interviewer understands why you are ready and able to return to work now.

A gap itself is not a problem if it can be explained.

If your gaps were in the past and you have been working subsequently then you can point to your recent job performances as proof that the gap did not have a negative effect on your work capabilities.



If you are returning to work after a gap, be realistic about your re-entry point. It is an unfortunate reality that after a gap you may need to take a step backward in terms of salary and responsibilities.

This can be a positive to a new employer – they will get a more experienced employee for less money.


Do you have a question you would like to ask the experts? If so, please send it to contact@jobsearchbible.com and we’ll put it to them.

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