How to explain a career gap

Nearly 62% of employees have taken a career gap at some point.

Despite the stigma behind it, there is no shame in taking a career gap, for whatever reason you may need to. Many workers are scared to declare that they have had a career gap, however, the best approach is to be proactive and honest with a potential employer.

Why it’s important to explain a career gap

Provides transparency and increases trust

Don’t leave your interviewer to wonder or make assumptions about the reasons for your career gap. Giving them an explanation can help them to understand why a career gap was necessary. We’re all human and can relate to whatever circumstances led to this, as well as reassure your potential future employer that you will be in a good position to re-enter the work environment.

Allows you to highlight skills you gained

This is a great time for you to demonstrate the skills you have used during your career gap or, even better, to show new skills you have developed. Just because you aren’t in formal employment doesn’t mean you aren’t gaining valuable experience and skills which can be applied to your new role.

Top tips on explaining a career gap

Be honest

Always be upfront about the reason for the gap. A simple and honest explanation avoids awkwardness later on if they were to find out you were not being fully truthful.

Avoid unnecessary details

Though being transparent nurtures trust, don’t get too personal. Your interviewer only needs to know the necessary details which relate to your ability to do the job you are applying for.

Take a positive outlook

Focusing on the positive can help your interviewer also focus on it. The likelihood is that if you are putting something across in a negative light, that is how it will be perceived by others. Did you gain any new skills? Develop a new perspective? Show your personal growth and relate it to your professional life.

Be prepared to answer difficult questions

Regardless of the length of your career gap, it is very likely you will be asked about the reasons behind it, so you should show up ready to answer any questions they may have.

Common reasons for a career gap and how to approach them in an interview

There are many more reasons than the ones we have listed, but these are some of the most common. Take a look at the do’s and don’ts when discussing your career gap in an interview.

You were made redundant


“Unfortunately my last company had to make a round of redundancies due to [brief explanation such as budget cuts or restructuring]. While this was unexpected, I’m proud of my accomplishments during my time there, particularly [give examples related to your new role].”


“They had it out for me from the beginning.”
“My manager had a personal issue with me”
“I don’t know what happened.”

You’ve returned to education


“I decided it was time for me to invest in myself to further my professional skills. I chose to pursue [qualification] to help me reach my goals of [career goals relating to the new role]. From this, I have learned [outline skills you have developed] in addition to my previous experience. I’m excited to put these new skills into use.”


“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.”
“My friend/family member told me to study [subject].”
“I thought I could make more money if I completed this qualification.”

You were looking after your children full-time


“I took a break from my career to focus on raising my children. During this time I was able to develop strong skills in [talk about transferable skills]. I was also able to take part in [relevant voluntary tasks you may have done]. I’m now eager and ready to return to work with a renewed energy and fresh perspective.”


“I couldn’t handle looking after my children and working.”
“I had no other choice.”

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