If you were recently let go from a job or have a period of unemployment on your resume, you know how difficult it can be to explain to hiring managers. Whether you were let go or you quit, employment gaps can often be a red flag to hiring managers.  If it’s your first time talking or an in-person interview, the employment gap on your resume will be brought up at some point in the hiring process. Luckily, your unemployment doesn’t have to bring you down, there are a few ways you can turn your unemployment into an opportunity to showcase your abilities and get your dream job.

Leverage your resume
Regardless of how you ended up unemployed, create a resume that showcases all of your positive accomplishments at past employers. If you received any awards, recognitions or exemplary accomplishments, incorporate these into your resume. Additionally, include any important strengths and skills that are an integral part of the job you’re applying to. Match up your skills to those of the job specs and position yourself as an ideal candidate for the job regardless of your unemployment.

Be honest
The worst mistake you can make regarding unemployment is lying about it. If a hiring manager asks about the specifics of your unemployment, be truthful. Try and be brief about the negative aspects of your departure and focus on the positive experiences you had while at the employer and what you’ve done during unemployment to better yourself. Avoid talking negatively about your past employer, no hiring manager wants an employee with a negative attitude. Be as positive and honest as you possibly can about your employment situation.

Get involved
During a period of unemployment, get out there! Go to networking events, speaking events in your industry or even sign up for an online class or certification. Make the most of this period of time by educating yourself and expanding your network. Getting involved and furthering yourself professionally will also help in interviews when hiring managers ask what you did with your period of unemployment. Saying that you’ve been job hunting sounds much less impressive than attending workshops and educating yourself about your industry.

Focus on the positive
Unless you were part of a unique situation, there are most likely some positive lasting relationships from your last employer. Asking your former co-workers to advocate for your experiences there is a great way to incorporate positive aspects about your last employment. If a potential employer can use a contact from the company you left or were laid off from to get a positive reference, your unemployment can become much less important to the hiring manager.

An employment gap in your career isn’t always easy, but taking simple steps to ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward and create a positive image of yourself as a potential employee is essential to success.

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