This module is for candidates who have career gaps, layoffs, and an incomplete degree on their resumes.
If you’ve been shortlisted for an interview after the resume screening, it’s evident that the career gap or an incomplete degree in your resume was not a deal-breaker for the recruiters.
However, it is very likely that the interviewers would want to get more context on these points during interviews to see if you have an understandable reason for the same.
During the initial rounds of interviews, the recruiters mostly focus on eliminating candidates to narrow down the pool of applicants for the upcoming rounds.
Therefore, you need to understand their probable concerns and assure them that they don’t have anything to worry about.
When recruiters see a career gap, they might associate it with performance issues.
Their primary concerns would be why did you leave your previous job without having another offer in hand? Are you unreliable? Flaky? Or do you have any red flags that caused you to get laid off and not receive a new job offer?
You must address these concerns and justify the reasons in the best light possible.
While recruiters know that layoffs can happen due to reasons that are not under the candidates' control, like budget cuts, change of management, and so on, you must address it well without sounding defensive or shady.
Here are some tips to help you address your career gaps, layoffs, and an incomplete degree:
Number 1. Address it proactively and be diplomatic
Whatever your reason may be for having a career gap, you must address it before the interview does.
This will assure the recruiters that you are not trying to hide anything.
However, don’t go into too much detail, as you will most definitely get a cross-question based on your answer.
Ensure that you do not badmouth your previous employers, and if you did leave the job due to a personal conflict, be diplomatic and provide professional reasons like you were not able to grow in your previous setting or role.
Number 2. Focus on the positive aspects and provide reassurance
You must explain the time off in a positive light and reassure the hiring manager why you won't be doing it again.
Emphasize the values you picked up along the way and highlight any relevant certification or new skills you may have acquired during your downtime.
If you did any freelance work, volunteer work, or took up community positions during your gap, highlight them.
If you are addressing an incomplete degree, talk about the coursework you’ve completed and the number of credits you earned rather than focusing on what you couldn’t complete.
While it is important to keep your explanation short, you must have a finish line so you don't trail off into an awkward silence.
Number 3. Be confident and show enthusiasm to be back at work
Addressing your career gaps with a confident approach will show recruiters that your reasons are valid and that you are not trying to hide anything.
After you state your reasons, ensure to show enthusiasm to be back in a work setting and talk about how you’ve been preparing for it.
Highlight why you would be a valuable addition to the team despite the career gap. Once again, talk about your strengths.
With proper preparation, you can go beyond your career gaps and showcase the best of what you have to offer.