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After I quit my last job (IT) I took a long break (over 2 years). Currently I am in the process of interviewing for a new job and of course I get asked about this gap in my CV.

After some feedback I figured I am still to defensive about this gap. In the end it should not really be that importantant to a company what I did there. (If they weren't able to view me as potential hire regardless, they wouldn't have invited me.)

I want to try to approach this question in a more offensive way, shifting the focus on why I am motivated to reenter into the buisness.

What are good ways to approach this topic during an interview when I am asked the question about the gap?

For example: Of course due to my absence I am lacking knowledge with some frameworks that gained popularity in the recent years. One things I am currently doing is going through some of them, do some tutorial-level stuff with them and a bit of playing around to get a better understanding of them. However this won't yield any knowledge on how they behave in a productive environment.


Edit:

I have a reason for quitting the job and I mention that reason during the interview, but I also received feedback that I shouldn't really share it. However I'd like to keep this part out of this question as that explantion in itself is a rather different topic.

For this question I'd like you to consider that I do not want to talk too much about it, however obviously I have to mention something (which I will). The focus shift I want to achieve comes after mention at least some of the details.

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    Can you tell us what you tried in the past that came off as defensive? Have you tried your last paragraph? If you take the first sentence out, it seems pretty good. – dwizum Feb 27 '20 at 20:47
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    Also. Are you able to share the reason why you took a long break? Someone who was out of work for two years because they couldn't get a job might be viewed differently than someone who saved up and spent two years traveling the world, or caring for an elderly parent, and so on... – dwizum Feb 27 '20 at 20:48
  • @dwizum: I don't want to share the exact reasons, lets just say I needed some time for myself. And no, I wasn't actively looking for work during most of this time. – user115104 Feb 27 '20 at 21:03
  • @dwizum: No. I haven't tried it yet, I just received the feedback recently and I am trying to prepare myself for the next interview. – user115104 Feb 27 '20 at 21:07
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    Maybe you should edit your answer to include the information that you can't or don't want to share the reason why you took a two year break. Even it it should not be important for your potential new employer, people are curious and get suspicious if they have the feeling that you're trying to hide something. So even if you want to get offensive about the future you should have some explanation for the gap that satisfies the interviewer's curiosity but also signals them that it would be inappropriate to ask further on that topic. – Benedikt Bauer Feb 27 '20 at 21:17
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I've interviewed (and hired) a few people who took really long breaks in the middle of an otherwise-cohesive career. Like with many things that show up on a resume, it isn't inherently a problem in and of itself, but it does quickly create a lot of questions. As long as you're prepared to answer those questions thoughtfully, honestly, and positively, it usually won't be a problem.

When I see a gap on a resume, I like to get a sense of purpose from the candidate. I mean this in two different ways:

  • There was a reason for the gap. Even if the candidate doesn't want to share it, it's best if you can explain things in a way that doesn't make it sound like it was somehow unintentional. Even reasons beyond your control are fine. But you don't want to give the impression that you lost your job, and just sort of sat around aimlessly for two years before you bothered trying to get a new one.
  • The re-entry is being done deliberately, and with a plan. Someone out of work for two years isn't going to be totally out of touch, but they will be a little rusty. That's okay. It's best if the candidate can show that they know this, and they're doing something about it.

So, imagine you're in an interview, and you're asked why you've been out of work for two years. Compare these two answers:

My company laid me off because they were downsizing. Now I'm trying to get a new job.

Versus,

I left my last job after a lot of deliberation regarding a personal issue, but ultimately I came to the conclusion that I just needed some time off. So I worked out a plan with my boss to help transition me out of the role, and I've spent some time addressing things in my personal life.

Around 6 months ago, I felt I'd handled things personally, so I started planning to re-enter the workforce. I knew I would be a bit rusty, so I've completed this list of online classes, and I did these projects in my spare time. I feel I'm actually in a really good place to hit the ground running at this point, because my time off has given me some time to actually focus on learning, which - besides getting me back up to speed, has let me fill some gaps in my skill set that were obstacles for me before I left my last job.

Most hiring managers will take the "deal with personal things" line as an indication that there's no real need to pry further, and if they do, you can always just redirect towards the things you've done to prepare for re-entry. There's really no reason to play this from a strictly offensive or defensive position, you have the benefit of having actually taken steps to prepare for re-entry, so you can just focus on being factual and describing those things.

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