Headshot of Lisa JordanAs you write your resume and start applying for jobs, you may have questions about addressing employment gaps. Lisa Jordan, President of Human Solutions LLC, shares advice on how you can address these gaps and how to fill them with other experiences to make a strong impression with a potential employer.

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Addressing Employment Gaps During a Job Search

Mar 22, 2018

By Lisa Jordan, President of Human Solutions LLC, Buena Park, CA

Headshot of Lisa JordanAs you may know, finding a job that's a good fit takes time, perseverance and hard work. If you've been out of work, whether it's due to a disability or another life event, confidently addressing any gaps in employment is key to moving forward in the job search process.

An employment gap is a period of months or years when you weren't employed. There are many reasons for gaps in employment. The goal in addressing a gap is to reassure an employer that you are ready and able to return to the workplace. Consider the following tips:

Be honest

It may be tempting to extend the length of time you were employed or add additional experience to cover a gap on your resume, but the consequences of doing that could be very negative. If the employer misinterprets the information, you could lose the opportunity for the interview or miss out on a job offer. So, always be honest about gaps that lasted longer than a few months and happened recently.  

Decide where to disclose

Non-sensitive topics such as travel, education, or volunteer work may be covered in your resume or cover letter. If you write a cover letter, use proactive and positive language when describing the gap. If you explain these gaps up front, an employer may be less likely to dismiss your resume. Disability- or health-related gaps, are best explained during an interview to reduce the possibility of discrimination or needless concern by an employer about your ability to return to work. To learn more about disclosing your disability, check out Disclosure: Let's Talk About It.

Fill the gaps

Gaps in a resume are less of an issue if you can demonstrate relevant or current work experience, including volunteer work. Even though it's not traditional experience, volunteer work is often recognized as a way to gain valuable experience and skills.

Be prepared

Some gaps are trickier to explain than others. These include periods of unemployment, which may or may not be health- or disability-related. In an interview, an explanation is always better than simply ignoring them. Having an explanation will help avoid leaving employers to draw their own conclusions. Take the time to practice your response to, "What were you doing during this time off or between jobs?" Your response will depend on your individual situation. Here are a couple of examples:

  • "I had a medical issue that's been taken care of, and now I'm ready to get back to work!"
  • "I left my last position to take care of a health issue. I'm feeling good and am eager to get back to work!"

A well-thought-out response may also boost your confidence and ability to answer any difficult questions with ease.

Remember to keep a positive attitude when writing your resume or during a job interview. Questions about employment gaps are not a sign that you're not qualified for a job. Instead, think of these questions as an opportunity to share the experience you do have, whether it's from past jobs, volunteer work or other experiences, and how it would make you an asset to the employer.

About the guest blogger

Lisa Jordan is President of Human Solutions LLC, a national Employment Network with the Ticket to Work program. Lisa holds an M.S. degree in Rehabilitation Psychology and has been passionate about providing workforce development and disability-related services to government, community-based organizations, and businesses for over 20 years. Lisa is the Board Chair of the National Employment Network Association (NENA) and proudly served in the United States Navy during Operation Desert Storm.

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn more

You can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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