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How to Explain a Gap in Your Resume in a Job Interview

If you've ever lost a job, it can be hard to get a new job right away, creating a gap between your last position and your next job interview. With the right spin, you can show your talents without dwelling on having been unemployed.


  • Step 1: Briefly describe what you set out to accomplish while you were unemployed, such as attaining a degree or caring for a sick relative. State that you have met those goals.
  • Step 2: Frame long periods of searching for a new job as though you were being selective in finding a job that is the right fit, rather than letting on that you have been passed over many times. If your confidence -- and your competence -- shines through, those years between positions won't be what your interviewer remembers.
  • FACT: The Census Bureau hired 700,000 temporary employees in preparation for the 2010 United States Census.
  • TIP: If you were laid off during recession-related downsizing, be matter of fact about it. If the layoff was not due to your performance, let the interviewer know.
  • Step 3: Be honest about your reasons for leaving the workforce, but give it a positive spin. Describe skills you utilized outside of your career that relate to the hoped-for position.
  • TIP: Bring several copies of your functional resume to the interview, and hand one to your interviewer to help focus the conversation on your experience rather than your gaps.
  • Step 4: Practice your explanation before going into the interview, so you'll be less likely to stumble through it. A confident attitude will make your explanation seem more credible.
  • Step 5: Make a functional resume to highlight experience that relates to the job you're applying for, instead of a chronological account that calls attention to gaps in your work history.

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