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Addressing the Gap – How to Explain a Period of Unemployment

Morgan Werner

Authored by Morgan Werner

Re-entering the workforce after any length of time away can be intimidating and it is difficult to know where to begin, particularly because job hunting has become so highly competitive due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you are looking for an entry-level position or seeking the opportunity to jump back into your career, having a strong resume on hand is key.

In a recent virtual workshop hosted by the Alumni Association and one of Recovery Centers of America’s top recruiters, Carly Carson, we learned that in order to stand out during the application process having a strong resume tailored to the job you are seeking is essential. Potential employers and recruiters reference resumes to take a glance at a candidate’s skills, accomplishments, and background – both professionally and educationally. A favorable resume can often make the difference between landing that big interview, or not.

But for those who have sought treatment to address their addiction, or those that experienced sporadic lapses in employment due to active addiction, one of the biggest questions surrounding resume writing and job hunting for individuals in recovery is ‘how do I address gaps in my employment?’ Carly Carson says the answer is simple – do not panic.

“On a resume, everyone has gaps, and they happen for a variety of reasons. As a recruiter, we will still call. Just be prepared to explain,” says Carson.

Here are a few other helpful pointers to keep in mind.

Be Honest But Not Too Honest

Some gaps can be easily described in black and white. For example, if you took time off from the workforce to focus higher education goals, this can be shared on a resume. An interview, however, is the appropriate time to further discuss gaps of employment that cannot be clarified on a resume. If your addiction was the reason for your gap whether directly or indirectly, best practice to be honest, but careful not to overshare. It is perfectly acceptable to provide general information without divulging, as your personal health information is and should remain private. Employers do not need to know the exact reason you were out of work, so when asked, be sure to provide broad information such as “I was addressing a health concern,” or “I took some time off to focus on my health.” Your potential employer will likely understand the circumstances and appreciate your ability to share truthfully.

Know This: Rebuilding Takes Time

After seeking addiction treatment, getting your life back on track takes courage and patience. Relationships that became severed during active addiction may need to be rebuilt, just as your career might have to be rebuilt as well – both of these take time. If you find yourself getting passed on during the application process, try not to get frustrated and let it deter you from finding a rewarding job that you enjoy. You may just have to start from a lower-level position to gain the knowledge and experience that recruiters are looking for to propel your career forward, and that’s okay. As long as you are taking steps in the right direction, you cannot go wrong.

Confidence is Key

Gaps happen, and life does too. Remember that recruiters and employers alike have most likely experienced gaps in employment along the way, so go in confidently – explain yourself without feeling like you must prove yourself.

Boost your confidence with our Interview Skills Workshop on Tuesday, January 12, with RCA recruiter Carly Carson! She will touch on key points such as how to prepare, how to stand out amongst other applicants, and expand upon how you can address those gaps as they relate to addiction and recovery. Carson also promises to share some industry secrets, stating “there are questions recruiters will ask in an interview that we’re looking for you to answer in a specific way. Our next session will go over how to navigate these questions appropriately.” Register now to learn more, get prepared, feel confident as you go into your next interview.

To learn more about this event or others hosted by the Alumni Association at Recovery Centers of America, check out our calendar of events or email [email protected].

Authored by

Morgan Werner

Morgan Werner

Morgan holds a degree in Interpersonal Psychology, is completing a degree with a major in Criminal Justice and a minor in Public Policy. Her passion for helping individuals overcome their circumstances, and affecting positive change has been a driving force in her efforts to support RCA’s alumni community.


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