Glenford Smith | Explaining gaps in your resume
QUESTION: I have applied to several jobs between January and now. I have landed a few job interviews, but I've found that I've had to be explaining the gaps in my rÈsumÈ. I believe that this has cost me opportunities to prove myself. How can I better convince employers of my potential?
- Tan S.
ANSWER: Thank you for your letter. It had to be edited for length.
To be asked to explain gaps in your rÈsumÈ is par for the course in an interview. If you enter the interview either not expecting the question or dreading it, this will be apparent. You may not answer the question well and you will seem unprepared.
What you need to do is to have a prepared answer ahead of time. Practise it so you can answer it if someone wakes you and demanded that you answer it there and then. It won't do to ad-lib your answer.
You didn't say specifically what was the cause of the gaps in your rÈsumÈ. Whatever they are, you mustn't make it a big deal. Just answer the question nonchalantly, and get on with the interview. If you treat it like it is nothing to answer, then the interviewer may treat it so as well.
Answer honestly but don't go into buddy mode and start telling every detail of each gap. If you have something that is not directly relevant, just don't mention it.
If you go into the interview thinking that it has caused you to do badly in the past, you will be putting too much pressure on yourself. You want to go into the interview positive and optimistic. Think of the good things you can do for the company and that you are getting the chance to tell the interviewers that.
One way of persuading the company of your potential is to use illustrations to anchor your claims. This is very important.
Let's say you're given a scenario where it is time for you to go home, and you're asked by your supervisor to do some work. It won't be completed for the next three hours. Or you're just asked if you can work under pressure.
Tell of a time when you were similarly asked to complete a task under enormous pressure. As many times as possible, you should give an example.
Don't go into the interview like you are begging them something. You are thankful for the opportunity to tell them what you can do for them. Act like it. All the best to you.
- Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.