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How to explain a gap in your CV

Explain a gap in your CV

There are many reasons that you may find yourself needing to fill a gap in your CV.

Maybe you left your last job because it wasn’t a good fit. Maybe you’ve taken some time away from work to look after your family, or you may have other of your own personal reasons.

CV gaps are completely understandable, but some employers see them as a red flag. It can bring questions around your hire, with some employers assuming you don’t stick at jobs for long and questioning why you haven’t been working in the months previous to applying. So, you should do everything you can to minimise the impact a gap in your CV has on your application.

Here are a few things you can do to stop that CV gap damaging the chances of you landing that dream job.

BE SMART

First of all, you don’t need to include every specific detail of all your experience in your CV.

If you’re an experienced employee that has held a number of different positions in your career, there’s nothing wrong with not going into as much detail.

This is also similar to when you are stating the dates of your previous employment on your CV, excluding the month and only showing the year is perfectly acceptable.

Also, if you don’t have a significant gap in your CV there is no reason to address it in the middle of your experience. Your cover letter or summary can be used to explain to the hiring manager why there is a gap, and why this position is the perfect way to get back into work.

HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

The most important thing to remember when dealing with a gap in your CV is that honesty is the best policy for (almost) every reason for taking a break from employment.

You don’t have to go into detail on everything (unless you would prefer not to talk about it). But avoiding it completely or lying about the reason for the gaps can have a negative impact on your application.

One thing you should never be tempted to do is extend your period of employment at a previous position. There is a chance that your interviewer will contact your previous employer to verify your time there, and you don’t want to be lying about it.

Hiring managers are experts in this. Having a genuine explanation for a gap in your CV won’t harm your application, Lying about it will.

USE YOUR TIME WISELY

If you’re struggling to find a job, and you feel like the gaps in your CV are to blame, try, and be proactive with your time.

Use your time out of work to develop or learn some new skills or take up a voluntary position. This will show the employer that you’re keen to get back into work and can set your CV apart from other applications.

Don’t just sit by the phone, waiting for it to ring. Make the most of your time out.

STAY POSITIVE

Instead of treating your CV gap as a negative, try and put a positive spin on them.

Instead of saying ‘I couldn’t find a job’, why not say ‘I decided to take to take a few months out to re-focus my career and pursue a new role in my desired industry’. This makes your career gap look like it was deliberate and for the benefit of your career.

Also, if taking a break wasn’t your decision, looking at it in a positive light can be very beneficial. Think about what you learned from the experience and what you’ve taken from it to implement positive changes into your career.

PREPARATION IS KEY

A key thing to think about is that, if your CV is successful, you are more than likely going to be asked to interview for the role. And, during the interview, there is a very high chance that the interviewer will ask you about any gaps in your CV.

Prepare what you’re going to say in a short and clear response, so you will not be caught off guard.

Also, when preparing for the interview make sure you research the company and the industry as a whole. This will show the interviewer that your time away from work has not affected the passion you have for the industry, or your ability to stay up to date with the industry trends.

REASONS FOR A CV GAP

ILLNESS

If your career gap was due to illness, you should be keen to express that you’re now back to full health and ready to go back to work.

Example – ‘Due to a medical condition I felt unable to continue in my previous position. However, I’ve now returned to full health and feel ready to take on my next challenge.

REDUNDANCY

Employers won’t blame you for having some time in between jobs if you were made redundant. Although, what you should explain is how you stayed up to date with the industry during your break. For instance, did you complete any volunteer work? Did you complete any additional training?

Example – ‘My previous employer was forced to make a series of budget cuts, and unfortunately, I was made redundant. However, I’m proud of what I achieved during my time there, and I have used my time away from work to sharpen my knowledge of the industry and complete some additional training that I never had the time for when I was in my previous role’

TRAVELLING

If you have a gap in your CV due to traveling, it should be fairly easy to explain. Many employers will actually appreciate the fact that you’ve been traveling before applying for their company, for some int means you’ve ‘got it out of your system’, and for others, it shows a sense of independence and cultural awareness.

Example – ‘I took some time out to experience a different culture and feel I’ve not only gained a new perspective, but I’ve also learned some valuable life lessons. I’m now ready to start a new role and focus on my career’

FAMILY REASONS

A lot of people take time out of their careers to raise their children or take care of a family member, so don’t think that you have to hide this. One thing that might be worth mentioning is that your children are now in full-time education or that you no longer have care commitments and you are ready to focus on your career.

Example – ‘I took some time out to raise my children. They are now in full-time education and I’m ready to focus on my career.

FINAL ADVICE

Whatever the reason for your career break, they are all relative.
A couple of months out a couple of years ago, is probably going to be fine. But if you’re time out was more recent, planning ahead is key.

It’s not unusual to have a gap in your CV, and it will only cause problems if you don’t explain it. The main thing employers want to see is your desire to re-enter the workforce and focus on your career once again.

And the last bit of advice, confidence, and honesty is key. Approaching the situation with the right amount of both will speak volumes of your personality.

Be honest, and don’t hide away from it. Approach it early, so you have nothing to worry about further in the process.

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