Explaining long-term unemployment without shooting yourself in the foot

What you need to do is confidently articulate one or two reasons why there is a gap on your CV (Shutterstock)

If you’ve been out of work for longer than six months it can be quite difficult to explain yourself in an interview. Here’s how to tackle the question with ease and confidence.

If there’s a gap on your CV of more than six months you can be sure that your interviewer will raise a few questions about it. If you’re unsure of how to effectively answer their questions, don’t fret, we’ve got you covered.

Be proactive about your explanation  

Before you’ve even had a chance to explain, interviewers will automatically assume that there was something majorly wrong with you or your abilities. What you need to do is confidently articulate one or two reasons why there is a gap on your CV. If you purposely took a break to study or concentrate on your family life, then say that. However, if you were without a job due to previous job failures own up and state what had happened. Remember to never blame others for your setbacks.

The tough economy is not a good enough reason

Just because the economy is not at its best, it doesn’t mean you can’t be at yours. Don’t blame the job market if you’re unable to find a job or you’ll be seen as someone who likes to play the victim. A better answer would involve possible mistakes you’ve made while searching for a job. State your mistakes and how you’ve learnt from them in order to show maturity and professionalism.

Never appear detached from your industry

Although you’ve been out of a job for X amount of months, you should still be able to explain trends and challenges in your industry. You’ll prove to the interviewer that you’re committed to your field and industry and are not planning on leaving. If you’ve managed to still work in an industry that somehow required your skills – great! Let the interviewer know that you’re still in it to win it.

(Try to) Be confident

Losing a job can be a real confidence crusher. If you think you could mask it to an interviewer, think again. Perhaps get a mentor to give you career tips and advice to boost your confidence before attempting to go for another interview.

No jokes.

Not many people can crack jokes about being unemployed for a long time without sounding cocky or victimised. Stay away from jokes and any humour about your previous company and mistakes made.

Stay tuned in and away from negatives

Don’t lose touch with people in your industry and try not to spend a lot of time with people who are experiencing the same thing as you. Join social media groups on LinkedIn for example to stay in touch with industry professionals and the latest news - online networking will work in your favour. Just try and stay away from any online activities that may harm your chances of finding a great job.

Need a job? Careers24 has thousands of jobs from plenty of different industries – from accounting to media. Simply create or upload your CV and you could soon find your dream job.