You know how it goes; you’ve lost a job or left work to care for your family. When it comes time to apply again, your CV looks patchier than a cabbage. Any potential employer takes one look and throws you onto the rejection pile. After a while, you realise that no matter how many CVs you send out, the callbacks don’t come your way.
Then, you strike gold. Some kind employer somewhere sees your hole-filled potential and invites you to an interview. Job’s a good’n, right? Only, you know they’re bound to ask you about those gaps. What’s more, your getting the role probably depends on them a good deal. No pressure, right?
But, it’s crucial you acknowledge that, though it’ll be tough, there’s no reason you can’t still stroll to career success. You may well be in a weaker position than other candidates, but that’s no reason to admit defeat. In fact, if you manage to rise from those ashes, you could well stand out more than others.
Of course, knowing that doesn’t help you when it comes to those awkward questions. And, trust us; they’ll come at some stage during the interview. Preliminary questions aside, that gap will be what your employer wants to know about the most. Make sure you don’t fall through the holes in your employment history by adopting these methods as you answer.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you need to be honest. There’s a real temptation to lie when it comes to issues you think could paint you in a negative light. Why would you want to tell your new employer about that time you were fired? But, if you try to fill the holes with fabrications, it’s going to be evident from a mile off. And, no employer in their right mind would hire someone who’s clearly lied their way through the interview. Instead, buckle up for a little truth-telling. Don’t shy away from the issue or try to play it down; be open and honest. If you lost your job through poor work, say as much. Even if you were unfairly terminated, don’t be afraid to go into that. You could even mention the fact that you received employment law support and advice in a case against your old employer. Make sure, though, that you never openly put your past boss down, or make yourself seem like a problematic colleague. Be honest, but not too honest.
Put a positive slant on things
So, you’ve told your interviewer that you were sacked for not keeping up with the workload. Honesty box ticked. But, now they’re looking at you like you’re mad. So, you need to go a little further by putting a positive slant on things. Instead of just saying you couldn’t do the work, make a point of mentioning how overworked everyone was in your old firm. Put a positive slant on that by stating that you applied for THIS position because you could see you’d be in a dependable and hardworking team. Or, just opt to point out what you learnt from that bad experience. Perhaps you were young and new to the role. Either way, ensure it’s clear that you wouldn’t make the same mistake again. We all love someone who can turn their life around. And, your employer’s unlikely to hold past mistakes against you if you can do the same.
Look to the future
Of course, as much as you can’t ignore those gaps, it’s crucial you don’t dwell on them or get stuck here. Addressing them is essential, but you want to get past this subject as fast as possible. And, to do that, you could look to the future in your explanations. If you took time off to look after your children, explain that they’re now in school and you’re ready to get back to work. If you went into education, make it clear that you’re now ready to apply what you’ve learnt. Even if you were made redundant or fired, you could make the future work here. Be open about the positive steps you’ve taken during your time out of work. Mention any volunteer work you’ve done or experience you’ve gained in the meantime. Then, move onto explaining how you would apply that to the role. Done right, transitions like these will lead those questions away from the holes and back to stable footing. And, that’s the best place to be in you want to secure the role.
Disclosure: collaborative post