There are so many reasons why you may have a gap on your resume. Maybe you took time off to travel or take care of a sick loved one. Maybe you had health issues yourself, or went back to school. Maybe you just lost your job and had trouble finding a new one. Nowadays, when people don’t spend decades of their lives at one single company, having a time gap on your resume isn’t as uncommon as you might think. However, it’s a pretty safe bet that this is something that employers will notice and inevitably ask you about. So what's the best way to explain yourself?

1. Be Prepared

The last thing you want is for a hiring manager to catch you off guard when they ask you what you were doing during your time out of the workforce. Instead of thinking of ways to deflect their question, prepare your answer ahead of time!

First, polish up your resume by adding any additional skills you gained, activities you did, or organizations that you joined during your gap in order to create a more cohesive narrative and give fewer reasons for a hiring manager to question you. From there, write down talking points about your time off and rehearse them before you interview. This way when the time comes you’ll have no problem giving a thoughtful answer about what you were up to during the time in question.

2. Be Honest

This may seem obvious, but sometimes when you really want to land a job, you just want to give an answer that the hiring manager wants to hear. But this is not the right thing to do. Whether it’s on paper or in person, you definitely don’t want to lie or be dishonest about your resume gap. When asked, tell the truth. You don’t have to lay out all the details, (which is why preparing ahead of time comes in handy!), but make sure that what you decide to say is grounded in reality. Employers will appreciate your honesty, and best of all, you won’t have false information floating out there that could come back to haunt you later.

3. Spin, Spin, Spin

Turn something that you think is a detriment into an asset! No matter what you did during your time off, give it a positive spin. Use the opportunity to talk about what you gained during that time, whether it was a cultural experience from traveling, communication skills from volunteering, or just straight up rejuvenation from taking a break from the grind. Detail how you’ve grown during that time, what you’ve learned, how this has prepared you for the next step in your career, and moreover how it will make you an asset in the role you’re applying for. It may seem a little out there, but there’s nothing wrong with getting a little creative and crafting a positive (yet truthful!) narrative to explain your resume gap.

4. Be Positive

Gap or no gap, applying for a job is always a nerve-wracking process. Don’t let a gap on your resume add to that stress, bring you down, or destroy your self-esteem. No matter the cause of your resume gap, no matter what happened during that time, no matter what you’re asked about that time, be positive! Even if you lost your job and were struggling to land a new one during your time off, don’t dwell on the negative. Talk about the good things you’ve gained from those experiences and leave the negativity out of the job application process. If you are positive and confident when talking and answering questions about your resume gap, it won’t give the employer nearly as much pause. Take your gap in stride, be prepared, and you’ll do just fine.

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Randa Kriss is a CT-based writer who has written about dogs, pop culture, and everything in between. When she’s not typing furiously on a keyboard, she can be found glued to the latest hit Netflix series, talking to her cats and Corgi, or curled up with a book. You can follow Randa on Twitter @alwaysranda.