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How to Explain the Gap in Your Resume With Ease

By | Elizabeth Alterman |

When I was laid off in January, in addition to the usual concerns, like “How quickly will I find a new job?” and “How will we pay the mortgage?” I also worried about having yet another employment gap on my resume.

Because I’d taken a timeout from my career to raise my children, I already had a Grand Canyon-sized gaping hole on my CV. I feared that with this layoff, employers would think I was taking more breaks than an aging rock band.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s April statistics, 9.8 million Americans are unemployed, so I know I can’t be the only one wondering how to downplay my downtime and play up my skills.

Curious about how to best address my widening gap, I turned to a pair of experts for some much-needed advice. Here’s what they said.

Be Honest

Whatever the reason for your time away from work, career coach and author of The Essential HR Handbook Sharon Armstrong says honesty is always the best policy.

“Don’t hide it; explain it,” Armstrong advises. “During the entire process of conducting a job search, maintain your integrity and demonstrate it. Jobs come and go, but being known for being truthful—and conversely, deceitful—can last a lifetime.”

Here’s an example: When I went for an interview in February, I was certain the gap would come up, and it did. When I told the potential employers the truth—that I’d wanted to be home with my children and felt fortunate that I was able to do so—an excruciating silence followed. In an attempt to lighten the mood, I joked that during that time I’d done some freelance work, but I also spent a fair amount of my day tackling mountains of laundry. What happened next surprised me: They laughed and thanked me for my honesty.

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