Q: I was laid off two years ago and, due to some health problems, I have not been employed since. What should I say to prospective employers in job interviews as to why I have not worked? Thank you. Liz - Sacramento, California
A: If your health has improved and you are no longer experiencing problems, I would use the recession and your layoff as the reason for your gap in employment. It is not uncommon for many individuals to be unemployed due to a layoff for a two-year period.
However, most employers will want to know what you have been doing in that time period. You should be prepared to answer that question. Obviously, you have been looking for work. But if you could show, for example, that you have been volunteering at your church or child's school, it tells the employer that you were engaged and staying active.
The other option is that you could be honest without giving away too much information. For example, you could explain that you had a health issue and, while nothing serious, you used the down time to take care of yourself.
In either case, it's important to know what you're going to say and stick to it. If you're not well-rehearsed, you may tend to get nervous, ramble and say the wrong thing or reveal too much.
With respect to your resume, you may want to consider a "hybrid" resume format. The top passage - the functional part - lists your skills and accomplishments. The next section places those accomplishments into context in a chronological section of job descriptions.
Websites like wwww.ladders.com have tips on the hybrid resume format. This format will prevent an employer from seeing - at the top of your resume - that you have been out of work for two years.