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How to Make Gaps In Your CV Work For You

Written by Andrew Arkley

 

Lots of us will take a break at some point in our career. It may be to go travelling, have children, take a well-earned rest or it may simply be a period of unemployment.

Gaps in employment have a bit of a bad rep. It’s a commonly-held belief that employers will see them as negative.

This isn’t necessarily the case. With the volatility of today’s job market employers are used to seeing higher instances of job-hopping - and the gaps that come in between.

It’s also becoming more and more common to take time off from work for enriching experiences like travelling.

If you’ve got gaps in your CV, don’t worry. It’s important to tell the truth at every stage of the hiring process, but with the right angle you can make the gaps in your CV work for you.

Honesty is the best policy

The first rule of addressing gaps in your CV is: always be honest. Whatever your reason for taking a career break, you need to acknowledge it and tell the truth about it.

You don’t necessarily have to go into huge detail, but lying or failing to explain it will either make the gap more obvious or come back to haunt you later.

Don’t be tempted to alter your previous employment dates to conceal gaps. If potential employers request references, your lie will be uncovered and it’s very unlikely you’ll get the job.

Use formatting to your advantage

Remember, you don’t always have to include all of your experience on your CV.

Ten years’ experience is usually enough. If you have more experience than this you don’t need to explain gaps that were more than ten years ago.

If you have a lot of experience you won’t be expected to go into detail about all of it, so this may allow you to mask the issue.

Another way to hide gaps is to list years of employment rather than months. For example, you’d write ‘2008 - 2011’ rather than ‘October 2008 - March 2011’

If it’s a longer gap that can’t be concealed this way, you’ll need to address it. However, your CV may not be the best place to do it.

Keep your CV short and to the point. Include a brief note about the gap in your work history, and then elaborate on it in your cover letter.

Put a positive spin on things

If you have gaps in your employment history where you weren’t particularly proactive, try to present them in a positive light.

For example, rather than saying ‘I needed a break’, try something like ‘I decided to take some time off to reassess my career objectives and gain a fresh perspective on the industry’.

If you were made redundant, focus on how you learned and developed during the role and how that will benefit your future career prospects.

Use your time effectively

If you’re having trouble finding work as a result of gaps in your CV, try to use your time in a valuable way.

Do some volunteer work, take a professional development course or seek mentoring. This will show employers you’re proactive and keen to develop new skills.

If you can demonstrate that you’re attempting to progress your career, employers are much more likely to view a break in employment in a positive light.

Anticipate interviewers’ questions

If your CV is successful and you’re invited to interview, the interviewer will probably ask about the gaps in your CV. It’s vital you have an answer ready for this.

Prepare a short response that acknowledges and explains the gap. Again, present it in the most positive light possible and focus on how it’s helped make you right for this job.

As always, you should research the company thoroughly before your interview. Use your research to demonstrate that your career break hasn’t dampened your passion for or knowledge of the profession and wider industry.

 

Gaps in your CV don’t have to be the end of the world. Be honest, proactive and positive to give your CV the best chance of success.

If you’d like help crafting the perfect CV, get in touch with us today - we’d love to help.

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