Resume gaps are a simple, universal reality in the modern working world, and nearly 70 percent of job seekers have some form of sudden job loss or temporary departure from the work force somewhere in their histories. But at the same time, even though most of us have at least one or two gaps in our work timeline, these gaps are still sometimes considered a red flag by employers.

This is one of the paradoxes of the modern job search, but there are plenty of ways to turn a resume gap into an asset rather than liability. If you’re asked to discuss your gap (or gaps) during an interview, here are a few ways to handle the question with professionalism and grace.

1. First, don’t bring up the subject unless you’re asked. Since most reasonable employers aren’t troubled by a few short gaps, this isn’t a big deal until someone in the conversation makes it a big deal. Don’t be that person. Let your interviewers decide on their own how much the issue means to them.

2. When you’re asked to explain your departure from the work force, don’t go on the defensive. You haven’t done anything wrong. Every decision you’ve made in your life, you’ve made for a reason. And anyone standing in your shoes would probably have made the same move. Don’t allow your voice to become tense or to rise in pitch, and don’t apologize. Just answer the question.

3. You may have left the workforce to attend to your family, you may have made a career change, you may have gone back to school , traveled, lost a job without warning, quit a position that wasn’t right for you, or struggled with a health issue. But employers don’t really need to know all the complex, personal details that informed this chapter of your life. They just want to know that you’re reliable and that you’ll be an asset to the company, not an unpredictable loose cannon. Keep it simple.

4. While you’re at it, keep it short. Once you’ve explained your gap, move on. Take control of the conversation and explain what you learned from this experience and how it made you a better person and a stronger employee. Most important, how did your experience make you a better fit for this specific job?

To learn more about the kinds of questions you may be asked in your interview, and to get job search help from an experienced TX staffing agency, contact the hiring pros at Expert.

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