Ask HR: How do you explain gaps in employment?

We asked a panel of experts from SHRM-Atlanta (Society for Human Resource Management, Atlanta chapter) the following question:

“Q. How should a job applicant explain short-term job stints without appearing to be an unstable job seeker or job hopper?”


Here are the answers from the human resource experts
. The overwhelming advice was to be honest, so don’t try to hide those gaps of unemployment just to make yourself a more attractive candidate on the surface.

Have you faced questions in job interviews about gaps in employment? How did you respond, and did you end up getting the job?

2 comments Add your comment

Daniel 2017

January 22nd, 2010
2:32 pm

The reality is, in a 10% unemployment market, if your resume is anything less than 100% optimal, you are essentially unhireable. Even with a perfect record, you still have only a small chance of success.

My qualifications and skill set out strip by far, many many other applicants for the jobs I’ve been applying for, but I do not even get a phone call or email or …. nada. I can’t imagine any other reason than gaps/spottiness. Otherwise my record is *impeccable*. I’ve been looking for months now, and after countless submissions, hundreds of hours, NOT ONE SINGLE RESPONSE PERIOD.

I think a kid with 6 months assembling bicycles at a hobby shop could get a job assembling bicycles OVER An ASE-certified Auto Mechanic with 20 years at an auto dealership, just because the kid previously assembled bicycles and the ASE Mechanic didn’t.

Yolanda Price

September 8th, 2009
8:23 pm

Yes I have been questions about gaps and I responded by telling them my mother was ill and I have to return home. I am from Cleveland, Ohio, and if this is not a good answer then how should I have answered.