By Wendy Saccuzzo, Career Development Specialist at Riviera Partners & Director of Career Development at Women Who Code. Follow me on Twitter @wendyhays11.
During the job search process, one challenge many people need to address is resume gaps. The best way to do so is to be as honest as possible while balancing the risk of potentially opening yourself up to discrimination. Consider this mantra: an interviewer can always ask for more detail, but if you say too much, you can’t take it back.
I recommend finding someone you trust who is knowledgeable in career development and HR issues, getting their feedback on your proposed response, and then fine-tuning your response based on their feedback. Sometimes, people just need to tell their story out loud in order to alleviate some of the pressure and stress.
As a career counselor, I have fulfilled this role as advisor. I specialize in career transition, and I have survived the resume gap situation myself, having been a “stay at home parent” and a graduate student. When someone entrusts his or her story to me, we can reflect on the situation and can come to an agreement on the simplest way to convey an answer that satisfies the question while still providing the minimum amount of information required to explain the gap in the most positive way possible.
A few recommendations on keeping active during a gap so that you are still an attractive potential employee to hiring managers and recruiters:
Job search can be a full time job in itself, and often job seekers can greatly benefit from a strategy session with a career counselor like myself if they feel stuck and need to take their search to the next level.
Note: If your reasons for a gap are due to health issues or caring for a loved one, and you encounter discrimination by a potential employer because of it, you should consult with a reputable employment attorney for advice on what is and is not legal to ask during the interview process.