How to Explain Employment Gaps & Reasons for Seeking a New Job

What happened

I get asked all the time about handling difficult interview questions and situations. We all think our situation is unique and one of a kind but really it’s not. Everyone is human and has had set backs and complications the trick is to explain your particular setback in a way that takes ownership, shows resolution and demonstrates that you are over it and ready to move forward. Let’s tackle 2 of the most common and most difficult interview questions

Unemployment Gaps

If you have never been laid off or terminated, just you wait. Odds are it will happen to you at some point. Most of us suffered a job loss from the recession that began with all of that corporate outsourcing in 2004 and 2005. Downsizing, outsourcing and corporate restructuring were huge and affected millions of workers both domestically and globally. That’s a fact but as bad as that was your response to difficult times can’t be to give up and collect unemployment for as long as possible.

Employers understand gaps in employment but they also want to know if you went back to school, performed volunteer work or launched a business. You need to show that you were active during that time off unless you had a health scare or were providing care to an ill family member. Same rule applies to a divorce. People get divorced all the time you aren’t the only one and if your marriage was tied to a failed business then that could affect your career in a big way. Again, It’s important to show that you can bounce back from adversity.

You Got a New Job, Why Are You Still Looking?

This one is tricky. We all know that there is very little loyalty in the workplace anymore, companies are still laying off workers, cutting benefits and offering low wages. Employees are always looking for top dollar and security. This situation perpetuates the cycle of turnover and attrition. In addition the average tenure is paltry 3.5 years – that’s way down from when our parents and grandparents were part of the workforce. Adding all this together and you have job seekers constantly looking for work even if they have just accepted a job.

So how do you explain that you are looking for work when you have just started a new job? You don’t want to be labeled a job hopper who’s only looking or a payday, right? First, it’s important to know that most companies like to poach another company’s top performer. The problem is companies don’t get a return on their investment unless the employee (you) stays for a certain period of time. Basically, they don’t want to hire you if they know they can’t keep you. It’s your responsibility to tell them something that makes sense and assures them that you won’t leave too soon.

The best explanation is to tell a new company that you’re not completely happy and it’s only smart to look for the best opportunities for you and your family. Also remember, lots of companies lie to you to get you in the door, and once you get in you see that things aren’t as nice and shiny as promised during the interview. In fact, that’s the number one reason new employees keep looking for work – because the organizational culture is terrible. There’s your reason! You’re welcome.

And finally, think about what makes you happy. Is it salary? Benefits? Fringe benefits? Projects? Office space? You need to be able to explain what motivates you and why.

Join the ResumeCrusade, contact me ‘chris@costofwork.com’