What to Do Instead of Lying About an Employment Gap

Lying About Employment Gap | Definition & Tips to Avoid Lying | Resume.com

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If you are preparing your resume to apply for a new job and have a gap in your employment history, you may wonder if you should lie about it to increase your chances of getting the job. Lying on your resume can have serious negative consequences. There are other positive ways to explain an employment gap to hiring managers. Learn what qualifies as an employment gap, why you shouldn’t lie about one to employers, and how to present an employment gap positively during the hiring process.

What is an employment gap?

An employment gap is a period of time when you didn’t have a job. Although there isn’t a specific length of time that you need to be unemployed for it to qualify as a gap, a period of unemployment longer than one month can be considered a gap. A period of six months or more of unemployment will typically stand out to employers.

Common reasons for an employment gap

Some commons reasons to have an employment gap include:

  • Looking for work unsuccessfully after being laid off, leaving a job, relocating, graduating, or switching careers
  • Taking time off for medical leave, personal reasons, or to care for family
  • Not working while pursuing an education
  • Spending time traveling

An employment gap may occur in your professional history for any number of reasons.

Why do employers care about an employment gap?

Here are some reasons employers might worry about an employment gap:

A lack of skills or industry knowledge

If your time not working was of significant length, employers may wonder if your skills or understanding of the industry have kept up with recent developments. Since there are constant updates and changes to technology and industry practices, an employment gap may show that your abilities are not current.

A lack of work ethic

Sometimes employment gaps can make hiring managers wonder if you didn’t have a job because you don’t have a good work ethic. They could see a lack of professional history as a sign of laziness or a lack of motivation.

Employers may be concerned or curious when they see an employment gap on a resume because they want to hire the best candidate. A gap can signal that you may not have the skills or qualities they’re looking for.

Should you lie about an employment gap?

You should never lie on your resume about anything. Employers can easily verify your employment dates through your references and a background check. Their discovery of the lie will likely disqualify you from being considered for the open position. If they discover the lie after you are hired, it can be grounds for termination. Additionally, lying on your resume may put you in a position where you’re asked to perform duties that you’re not capable of. It is always better to be honest on your resume and clearly address why you have an employment gap with your hiring manager.

How to address an employment gap

You can use these steps to explain your employment gap when seeking a new job:

1. Firstly, consider your resume type

When writing your resume, consider whether using a different format will help present your skills more clearly if you have an employment gap. While a chronological resume lists professional employment from your most recent job to your oldest one, a functional resume focuses more on presenting your skills and career accomplishments than a list of your previous jobs. A hybrid resume is a combination of a chronological and a functional resume, spending equal length on describing your employment and your abilities. Consider if using a functional or hybrid resume may be a better option for you than a chronological one.

2. Secondly, use years instead of months for employment dates

For the professional history or experience section on your resume, you need to include the dates of when you worked at each job. It’s often recommended to include both the month and year in your dates of employment, such as ‘Software Engineer, Technical Bold Consultants, November 2018 to February 2019.’ However, if you omit the months and only include the years of employment, it can make your length of employment seem longer, and your employment gap seem shorter. Using this method is not lying because employers can still verify the length of your employment. If they ask you for specific dates, you should tell the truth.

3. Thirdly, show growth on your resume

You can present an employment gap in a positive way on your resume and allay employer concerns by addressing how you grew or what you learned during that time. Think of any activities, courses, or alternative jobs you may have done during the gap and list them on your resume to show skills growth.

Examples of positive reasons to explain an employment gap:

  • Education. If you attended school, took any professional courses, or even engaged in a self-guided study during your employment gap, list this on your resume to show employers that you were actively seeking improvement while you weren’t working.
  • Travel. If you took time off work to travel, you could explain this on your resume and list where you went, the cultures you experienced, and anything you learned, such as new languages or other skills.
  • Volunteer work. Listing volunteer work on a resume shows employers your commitment, initiative, abilities, and skills.
  • Entrepreneur efforts. If you engaged in any entrepreneurial efforts, you can list this as a job on your resume and include your actions and the skills you used or developed.
  • Freelance or contract work. Even if you didn’t work regularly, including any freelance or contract jobs you performed during an employment gap can effectively fill that gap on your resume.

4. Fourthly, provide details in your cover letter

If your employment gap is significant and you feel it’s necessary to explain in your application, you can devote a brief paragraph in your cover letter to address it. For example, if you took maternity or paternity leave, leave for health reasons, or to take care of family, you can include these reasons in your cover letter to explain the employment gap. You might also include an assertion that you are now ready and committed to return to the workforce.

5. Fifthly, prepare an interview question answer

Before you go into a job interview, consider how you will explain the gap in your employment history if the hiring manager asks about it. Prepare to briefly state the reason for your lack of employment, and spend more time highlighting your efforts to get a job and to improve your employability, such as learning new skills or developing personally. Use your answer to show the employer that you are ready and capable for the role despite the gap.

6. Finally, always be honest

Lastly, remember to be truthful in your answers and explanations about an employment gap. Honesty doesn’t mean you have to give every detail of the gap or divulge sensitive or personal information, but be prepared to state that you needed time off for personal reasons or another brief explanation instead of lying about your employment gap. The key to successfully presenting a gap in your employment history to hiring managers is to prepare to address it in a clear and positive way.

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