How to Explain Unemployment in your Resume

Wednesday 26 August, 2015


It’s the awkward gap in your resume between two employments or two life events. A chink in the armour that employers will be quick to question

Your resume is effectively your life story on paper and ‘the gap’ could be the final hurdle between you and that dream job. 

So if you were questioned, could you respond with information that will leave the employee feeling at ease? After all you don’t want the employer to interpret a period of unemployment as ‘idle time off’.

It’s all in how you deliver this information, so be confident, consistent and follow these tips on how to deliver this information:


1. Embrace this opportunity!

It’s not necessarily a bad thing for this to crop up mid-interview. It’s an opportunity to explain this time off in person rather than the employer making assumptions.

2. Practice makes perfect! 

Have a reasonable answer prepared, practiced and say it with a kick of confidence. If you want to put the employer’s mind at ease then you need to sound at ease too.

3. Pull out the positive!

Firstly, avoid drawing attention to the negative. Try not to justify unemployment in your resume by blaming a poor economy at the time, or bad season to find work, or bad reference from an ex-boss.  

Find the positive! It doesn’t matter why you were unemployed – whether it was to concentrate on a hobby, to travel, gain more skills or even to devote two weeks playing on the Xbox, the point is that you will have learnt something and this is a positive so find this and highlight to the employer. Perhaps you discovered a new passion, or improved a certain skillset. Whatever the reason for unemployment there is positive in there somewhere!

4. Show off your productive side!

Don’t be afraid to show off examples of where you were productive during the unemployment period! Did you attend any networking events or volunteer? Did you/do you do any personal reading related to the job? Don’t be afraid to be a show-off!

5. …and swiftly moving on!

Make sure you answer the questions succinctly, then quickly move the interview conversation on. A good answer can very quickly turn into “too much information” if you’re nervous which will not put the interviewer at ease.

Take the first step to the interview by joining our talent marketplace at OneShift of 500K candidates and over 35,000 businesses looking to hire!


Heather Doherty

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