How To Explain a Break In Work History

Patriot Resume helps people tackle these hard questions. I recently had a friend reach out to me for help getting back into the workforce. He has not worked in over six months and was concerned his break in work history would negatively affect him.

My advice? Be honest (mostly). My friend is a veteran who struggles with PTSD, he recently went through a divorce, his parents house burned down, he moved to a new city, and is adjusting to his new life. He thought it was best to take some time off work to figure life out, and was fortunate enough to be in a financial position to do so. Who could blame him for taking time off? I would do the same in that situation and I think most people would as well.

It is ok to take time off work! You are not your job, you know how to best live your life and ultimately you don't have to explain your choices to anyone. However, its well within an employers right to ask about a break in employment during the application process. They just want to be sure they are getting a reliable worker and not hiring a flake. If you want to get hired, you need to be ready to articulate your thought processes. If you are able to do so, no reasonable person will hold that against you. If they do, pass on this company and find one with a better culture because you won't be happy working there anyway.

So what do you SAY? In this situation I coached him to be honest about his struggles and motivations for taking time off. That doesn't mean that he has to divulge personal information he is uncomfortable sharing, but he owes it to his potential employer (and himself) to be honest about the situation. Be honest, and let the pieces fall where they may.

Pro tip: Use your time off period to better yourself in some way. Take a class, practice a new skill, come back refreshed and ready to perform at a higher level than before. This will show your new employer you are strategic and motivated.

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