The Ladders, a website for job advice and job seekers offer this article by Tanjia M. Coleman: Why Have You Been Out of Work So Long?
Whatever you do, have an answer to the question — why have you been out of work so long? Whatever you say, don't answer, 'Looking for a job.'
Coleman offers a lot of great advice and some great ideas to tweak for your own answers.
■ I decided to start a business
■ I am an officer of XYZ organization
■ I took some college courses to stay current in my career
■ I am currently researching XYZ subject (ensure that it has business relevance)
■ I volunteer at a local mission
■ I started a networking organization to help those out of work
■ I decided to coach a season of my child’s baseball league
There is something you've done in your period of unemployment that you can talk that will be more impressive to the hiring manager than simply "looking for work."
Check out the entire article for more great ideas.