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6 Reasons for Employment Gaps and How To Discuss Them In The Interview Process

September 29, 2023

No employer will expect your career path to be without obstacles, bumps or pauses.

Employment gaps are part of a life fully lived as you strive to find your direction, take time out for yourself or others and react to the challenges that come your way.

If the gap did not last long or if it was a long time ago, then it may be less relevant to employers. However, if the gap was within the last 10-15 years, it’s likely to come up during your interview process.

Be sure to include an explanation for any employment gap over 6-9 months. Anything over that will invite questions and it’s encouraged to answer truthfully.

We explore three reasons for employment gaps that are easier to explain and three that may require context. However, rest assured that all of them are common and acceptable.

Pregnancy / childcare. While some employers will sadly frown on periods out for childcare, they are not the sort of employers that you want to be working for. You should never be asked about your familial situation or obligations at an interview but including a note in your resume is completely normal.

Education. A lot of people take  time out for education, whether it’s relevant to their current career field or a completely new one. Either way, openly discuss your education. It shows that you can work hard towards a goal and invest time and energy into learning something new.

Illness. Whether you have been ill, or you have been looking after a sick relative, a gap in employment due to this can’t be disputed. You are under no obligatgion as a job seeker or employee to disclose details and cannot be discriminated against, either.

Termination. Show how you used your job search period positively, whether it be volunteering, continued education or anything having to do with bettering oneself.  Illustrate how you bounced back and improved your performance and highlight successes in previous roles.

Sabbatical. Personal growth and travel can be incredibly beneficial for any future employer, so if you can quantify this growth after any time out or volunteering activity, then you should be proud to include it in your job search sales pitch.

Career change. Becoming self-employed or changing industries is a common reason to leave a job. Things don’t always go as planned or you may in fact realized that working for oneself isn’t for you. And that’s OK! Explain what you learned from your experiences and how it helped guide you to your current state.

Remember: You are human and life happens. It’s not always a clear coast. There may be bumps in the road, but it’s how you go over them and overcome that matters.

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