In your journey to return to work, you will inevitably be asked about your career gap in an interview. This doesn’t need to be a daunting question; there are many ways to go about answering that can improve your interview instead of hurt it.
Firstly, it’s important to remember to not be ashamed of your career gap. In fact, according to Forbes, a “poll of hiring managers found that 96% would hire a candidate who was laid off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.” Additionally, Forbes notes that “it isn’t the break in employment that hurts a candidate’s chances at landing their next job, it’s often how they choose to describe the situation that mistakenly creates a negative perception of their temperament or abilities.”
So how do you describe your break in work? The best thing to do is be honest. People take hiatuses from their career for many reasons, and you shouldn’t be ashamed that your career path took that direction. If you took time off to raise children, care for a relative, find a new passion, move homes, etc., it’s okay to explain that to the hiring manager.
In your explanation, remember to present your story in a positive light, and explain what you learned and gained from your time off work. For example, if you raised children, you can discuss how parenting has improved your time management, multitasking abilities, organization, creativity, and patience. You should also note anything you did that directly relates to the job you are applying for, such as taking classes, receiving certifications, or tutoring.
If you have a career gap from leaving a company due to negative circumstances, you do not need to get into the gritty details. Forbes says “the key is to candidly present the facts without going too deep into the story or letting the discussion turn negative.” You can explain the positives aspects of the situation, such as gaining the ability to deal with difficult people or realizing what type of work environment you want to be a part of.
Leaving work for any period of time does not need to be detrimental to your career. With the right interview practice and support, your hiatus can even be helpful to your profile. Additionally, a program like MARS Returnship can help guide you through the application and interview process. You can learn more about MARS Returnship here: https://getreturnship.com/about/