How to Explain Gaps in Your CV
Nowadays, it's very common to have gaps in your CV. That's all very well and good, but most employers will want to know why you chose to have a career break and what you did during that time.
If you just leave a gap, the reader may assume you did absolutely nothing so it could scupper your chances of securing a job interview.
Filling the gaps in your CV will show the employer that you have gained transferable life skills, which is much better than them conjuring up images of you chilling out as daytime TV's number one fan 😉
Whatever you choose to write, one or two short sentences are enough. Your CV should focus on what you have achieved in the workplace so avoid the temptation of writing War and Peace justifying your career break.
Reasons for Gaps in Your CV
Some of the most common reasons for gaps in your CV may include:
- Unemployment either by choice, by redundancy or from being fired
- Taking time to care for a family member
- Raising a child/ children
- Illness or injury
- Learning a new skill or gaining a qualification
Whatever the reason or reasons you have for gaps in your CV, it important to fill the blank space with something. Dig deep and think of anything that you achieved during the time you had away from employment and cross check this with an area in which you can add value to the employer.
Examples of how to fill gaps in your CV
Regardless of whether you were unemployed through choice or not, you must fill the gap with something positive. Lots of people find themselves unemployed at various stages of their lives so don't worry. It's perfectly acceptable to have employment gaps on your CV. What did you do during this time? Did you attend any courses arranged by the Job Centre or Work Programme provider? If so, detail these on your CV where the gap lies.
Any courses or personal development are likely to add value to the employer and show that you didn't just sit back and do nothing during this time. Be sure to put a positive spin on any unemployment that you have encountered. Perhaps the time off made you realise that you wanted to change career path or it gave you the determination to succeed with another company. Just show that you have used your time effectively and fill the gaps in your CV.
Caring for a family member
This is incredibly common. I promise you, you are not alone of this was the reason for gaps in your CV and employers do not frown upon such time out of your career. The great thing about such a gap is that you would have definitely learned a new skill (probably quite a few!) that could transfer to the workplace.
If this is relevant to your experience, say so. Did you have to administer medication, take care of day-to-day tasks for the person in your care or liaise with external organisations, such as medical professionals, solicitors and so forth? You don't need to go into any personal details, but if you can include any skills that, for example, improved your communication skills, confidence or empathy, it will show the prospective employer that you have grown as a person outside of the workplace.
Raising a child/ children
As above, this is very common, yet many men and women returning to work after raising a family lack confidence. Raising a family is a full-time job and you WILL have gained numerous skills that can increase your potential contribution in the workplace. Don't think that employers don't want people over 40! That's definitely not the case!
Budgeting, administration, school trips, organising parties, patience, homework, planning…the list is endless. All you need to do is fill the gaps in your CV with an overview of key skills and achievements that have happened during that time to prove you haven't become stagnant, which is very unlikely if you are a parent. Trust me! I know!
Not everyone who relocates for whatever reason lands a job right away. If you relocated to another area or country, there's no need to write the reason why. Focus on what you did during that time. That may be learning about and immersing yourself in the new area or culture. Perhaps you learned a new language? Even taking time out to move house and decorate it is enough to show that you did something to move your life a step forwards.
Illness or Injury
Tread carefully with this one. Now is not the time to fill the gaps in your CV with personal information. Whatever you decide to put here, ensure you state that you are back to full health and are ready to rejoin the workforce.
This is one of my favourites. Employees who take time out of their career to go travelling are often seen as an asset to an employer due to the skills they gained and cultural learning experiences encountered. If you can relate this to the job to which you are applying, all the better. Does the role require you to converse with people from different countries? If so, great! Use this to your advantage, particularly if you have learned a new language or have gained an understanding of cultural differences or laws.
Learning a new skill or gaining a qualification
This one's a no-brainer. If you took time out of your career to go back to college or university, filling the gaps in your CV with your learning is a fantastic opportunity for you to show the employer that you take your chosen career path seriously and can contribute from the get-go. Any type of learning shows an employer that you are teachable, which, in turn, will give the impression that you will learn quickly in the workplace.
Whatever your reason for taking time out of your career, you must ensure that you fill in the gaps in your CV with short, punchy sentences that translate into a valuable employee. You can expand on the detail during the job interview, so a brief overview will suffice and create intrigue and interest for the reader.
Taking time out is not a bad thing, even if it wasn't your choice. Life skills and personal development, when pitched correctly, can set you apart from competing candidates who haven't had the opportunity to visit adversity, personal challenges or unemployment, so go for it! Everyone is unique. Everyone can be an asset to an employer. Gaps in your CV are just another step closer to success.
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