By Morgan Lewis

Do you have a gap in your resume that’s causing you stress? Yes, it’s true that when a recruiter sees a gap in a resume, typically we put up a red flag; however, gaps (usually) don’t automatically disqualify a candidate from being considered for a particular position. What is important is that you be able to explain your hiatus from work with honesty and confidence, no matter what caused the gap in the first place (a layoff, being fired, a personal issue, etc.).

If you are currently unemployed, or have a gap in your resume that you will need to explain in the future, take note of the following suggestions.

1.  Avoid being defensive when a recruiter or future employer asks you about the gap.

A good interviewer will ask about every stop you’ve made throughout your career and gaps of time between positions, even if those gaps occurred a long time ago. When asked about those gaps, if you avoid the question, lose focus, or change your tone of voice, your interviewer will likely follow up with a few more detailed questions, leaving you with less time to discuss your responsibilities and accomplishments during the time you were employed. As such, try to answer such questions succinctly, and in the same manner you’ve answered previous questions.

2.  Never lie about a gap in your resume.

Although this sounds obvious, we’ve found that many people cover up or embellish the truth when it comes to discussing time out of work. Suffice it to say, this is not a good idea. Odds are this isn’t your recruiter or interviewer’s first time to the rodeo; they can spot an evasive candidate from a mile away. Thus, it’s important that you be forthright, and explain your employment gap truthfully. Even if you were fired from a previous position, explaining the situation with total honesty could potentially redeem you from being cast as a job hopper or bad employee. When it comes time for reference checks, if it’s found that you were untruthful during the interview process, you’ve not only wasted time, but you have likely ruined your reputation within the industry.

3.  Take your unplanned time off seriously and use it to your advantage.

Waiting around for opportunities to come to you is not the best way to use your time off between jobs. Instead, take advantage of that time and make yourself a better candidate for future opportunities by broadening your skill set. Take a class, attend conferences, and re-connect with industry colleagues. This serves two purposes: it will keep you connected with people in your industry and let them know you’re a viable candidate for potential opportunities, and it will help demonstrate that you’re a proactive, productive person when you’re asked about a resume gap in your next interview.

4.  Know when to move on.

Sometimes, no matter the reason for leaving a previous position, employers will not consider you as a candidate due to a gap in your employment history. That’s okay; simply move on! There’s no sense wasting time with an employer that doesn’t fully understand your potential and value as an employee. Find a company with the leadership that will see your accomplishments both in and out of the office as an asset, and focus your time on them.

Like what you see from author Morgan Lewis, Turnkey Recruiter? Follow her on twitter at @morgan_a_lewis.