The top cited reasons for gapsin employment are family-related, including taking time off toraise a family; maternity/paternity leave; and needing to take careof a sick family member or friend. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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It's not uncommon to have periods in your adult life when you'renot working – just find ways to leverage howyou spent your time to convince a prospective employer you're thebest fit for your next job.

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Three in five Americans (59 percent) have been unemployed or hadsome kind of gap in their career, according to Monster's 2019 State of the Candidate Report.

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Related: Expanding the talent pool: 10 groups employers areusing to fill vacancies

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“If you're among the three out of five and you're looking for anew job, prospective employers typically understand and yes, oftenexpect gaps,” says Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. “Even ifyou're concerned, employers are likely more surprised when theydon't see a gap on the resume than when they do.”

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When interviewing with a prospective employer, job candidatesshould succinctly explain any gaps on their resume, thenimmediately pivot to being enthusiastic about the current jobsearch and why and how their specific skills and experiences are afit for the role they're pursuing, Salemi says.

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“Essentially, you're simply addressing the gap and thenleveraging it as a talking point as to being ready for thisopportunity because you're a fit and here's why…,” she says.

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The top cited reasons for gaps in employment are family-related (48 percent), including takingtime off to raise a family (for longer periods thanmaternity/paternity leave (18 percent); maternity/paternity leave(15 percent); and needing to take care of a sick family member orfriend (15 percent).

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Other common reasons include getting laid off (37 percent) andgetting fired (16 percent). Considering over one-third ofrespondents have experienced a gap due to layoffs and 43 percenthave had unexpected job loss (lost their job or were fired) morethan once, “if you're in this statistic as well, there should becomfort in that because you're not alone,” Salemi says..

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This statistic is important to highlight — regardless of whetherthey've been laid off before, half of Americans do not feel verysecure in their current position and company layoffs are a majorreason why, she says.

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“It's a good thing — of course, you don't want to arrive to theoffice every day anxious, nervous and/or paranoid, but a goodhealthy dose of insecurity bodes you well,” Salemi says. “This way,you're never caught off guard.”

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If individuals keep their resumes up-to-date and in circulation,set up job alerts and apply to opportunities that pique theirinterest, network over coffees and conversations, they're “truly inthe driver's seat.”

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“You're proactive rather than reactive, she says. “And iflayoffs don't occur, chances are during your exploration of otheropportunities, you'll probably find some enticing ones to pursueanyway.”

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Two additional reasons for gaps in employment include needing abreak from work (18 percent) and going back to school (13percent).

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“It's empowering to see people taking time off to take care ofthemselves such as wanting to take a break from work or go back toschool,” Salemi says. “I think we're going to see more of thisgoing forward — employees are people and in turn, employers areresponding with more flexible work arrangements (personal daypolicies, sabbaticals) to try to retain employees who not only havepassions outside the office, but who want to maintain both theirphysical and mental health in the process.”

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.