It’s only natural for an employer to be curious about what the applicant has been doing during his or her time off. Were you at home procrastinating about how hard it is to find a job these days, or did you actually spend your time doing something of importance?
In explaining the gap in your employment history, there are two things that you need to consider before answering: how you used the time off, and how long your time off was.
How did you use the time?
In any extended time away from work, it’s only natural for your skills to start deteriorating. If you haven’t been using your skills during the time you weren’t working, this will raise concerns. However, if you actually took the time off in order to go back to school, then explaining the gap will be easier.
How long was your time off?
Everyone takes time off from work at some point, and having a break shouldn’t be a big deal unless that gap spans more than a year; then it becomes a real concern. Here’s how you can address the situation:
First, consider the format of your resume. For example, when listing your employment dates, you can always leave out the month and only put the year. This way, you’ll be able to conceal the exact length of time you’ve been out of work.
Another strategy is to accentuate your skills and experiences when you write them in your resume. You want the employer to focus on what you can do for the company, not on that gap. If you present your resume with an emphasis on your skills rather than your work history, you’ll have an easier time explaining the gap.
Whatever the case may be, what’s most important is to be honest with the employer. If you’re up front about why you had this gap and if your reason is valid, then chances are that they’ll understand.
Final quick tip: If your time off will be extended, consider doing volunteer or freelance work that will still allow you to attend to your situation while providing you with something to show to an employer when you decide to go back to work.