By Jasmine Dean, Coordinator Senior - GEAR UP, Arizona State University
Life can take us off our planned route, and there may come a time when you want or need to step away from working. While not ideal, it is okay to take a break from work life, but it is also important to adequately explain this time off to an employer. We see this type of situation in our office quite often, so we want you to know that it is more common than you may think.
Our best advice? Be honest and focus on the experience and opportunities that you have rather than the gap itself. Tend to areas where the experience the employer is looking for overlaps with your previous employment and skill set. Do you exceed the requirements being asked of the position? Think about the skills you may have developed during your time away and explain how those competencies might support your success in the position.
When the gap does come up, the employer will expect you to explain why it is there. To get in front of this, we recommend submitting information about the employment gap in your cover letter. This allows you to address the time away from the start, opens up a discussion, and most importantly, demonstrates that you have nothing to hide. Do not be ashamed of having the empty space in your resume; skill-building is not only done at a job or in the classroom, so be comfortable in elaborating on your growth and what you learned during your time away.
And lastly, take a deep breath. You are not the first person to have a gap in their employment history, and you won’t be the last. Being a successful candidate is based on what you bring to the organization, so it is up to you to put in the time and appropriately articulate your experience (paid or otherwise) to a potential employer.