How to Explain Gaps in Employment Due to Disability: A Helpful Guide in 2020

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How to Explain Gaps in Employment Due to Disability: A Helpful Guide in 2020

Your resume is the first and sometimes only opportunity to win a potential employer over.

When you’re called in for an interview or questioned about details of your resume it can be hard to know what to say. This is especially true if it involves gaps in employment due to disability.

More than 61 million Americans have a recognized disability. The majority of those workers have taken some time off to deal with a disability or illness at some point in their career.

It can be hard to know what to share and how to give the best answer to still get the job. No one can legally discriminate against you for having a disability. Still, most employers will shy away from individuals who may need a lot of time off work for any reason.

Keep reading for a helpful guide on how to explain gaps in employment due to disability.

It’s All About Your Abilities

Your cover letter and resume are critical in selling your abilities. You need to highlight strengths to your potential employer. You want to give them every reason why they should consider you for the job and avoid giving them reasons not to consider you.

If you’re capable of doing the demands of the job and have the qualifications to do it well, express that on your resume. You don’t need to explain or even mention your disability when sending resumes or cover letters.

Many online applications allow space for individuals to self-disclose as a visible minority or having a disability. It is your choice whether you decide at this time to identify yourself as such.

You may find that you’re more comfortable if you do not share too much information about disabilities. Let them focus on why you’re perfect for the job with the best qualifications.

The law protects you from being discriminated against or from being forced to disclose any personal information regarding your disability. Employers still may use it as a factor in deciding who to interview or hire.

Let employers fall in love with you and your resume first. If you need to share details later, you’ll already have a rapport and relationship with them to build on.

Make Yourself Comfortable

While you don’t need to volunteer every aspect of your disability, there may be times where it’s appropriate to share some pertinent information.

If you have a visible disability you might be more comfortable if you disclose this prior to the interview. This ensures the interview is conducted in an appropriate space. If they need to improve their accessibility they’ll have the opportunity to do so before you arrive.

The last thing you want to do is show up in your power chair for an interview on the second floor of a brownstone with no elevator. If employers know about any accommodations needed prior to the interview it will make it go more smoothly for both sides.

Resume Employment Gaps

Many times there are ways to fill the gaps that are still honest but leave you less to explain when it comes to unemployed time on your resume.

You may consider listing things like volunteer work, educational programs, and self-improvement sabbaticals. If you’re planning on keeping your disability to yourself, make sure you don’t accidentally provide information that tells them.

Putting the fact that you won two medals at the last Special Olympics is going to reveal that you have a disability without you even realizing it. These are accomplishments to be proud of and definitely worth sharing. You just should be aware of anything that may share more than you feel comfortable with your employer knowing before you even meet.

You can use travel, education, and volunteer experiences to not only fill in time gaps on your resume but to offer other skills and qualifications that perhaps aren’t highlighted in your traditional employment history.

Be Prepared with Integrity

When heading in for an interview or even during initial phone interview screenings for potential candidates, you may be asked questions about the gaps in employment on your resume.

It will be helpful to have an answer prepared in advance so you can quickly and confidently address their question or concern. You can move on to discussing why you are right for the role you’ve applied for.

Don’t lie on your resume or in the interview. It’s tempting to just change the dates of employment so that there are fewer gaps to explain. Don’t do it. Employment background checks and reference checks are conducted more thoroughly than ever.

If you get caught making a dishonest statement on your resume or in relation to employment elsewhere, you’re not going to be trusted to be honest at this job.

Know What You Want To Share

If they ask about your disability and gaps in employment that aren’t otherwise explained you can simply answer the question with a direct and discreet reply regarding taking time for a medical procedure and recovery or rehabilitation and that you are medically stable now.

You don’t want to reveal everything about your medical health. It is a good idea to share enough that they are confident your medical status won’t affect your ability to perform the job you’re interviewing for.  Focus on the talents and skills that you’ve gained as you’ve lived with your disability rather than the challenges themselves.

Have a prepared answer for any possible question regarding gaps in employment on your resume. This will help you avoid revealing more than you wanted to or stammering over the answer. Either reaction could cause the interviewer to be uneasy with your reply.

Explain Gaps in Employment and Dazzle Them

If you are confident and prepared with answers for why you have gaps in employment when you send out your resume then you’ll be more confident when trying to win over potential employers.

By Rachel Amezcua
Rachel Amezcua