How to Explain Gaps in Your CV

Many of us will find ourselves out of work at one point or another, whether or not it’s by choice. From being made redundant to being signed off sick or taking a break to have kids, most people have gaps in their CVs which need explaining.  

Some are easier to style out to potential employers than others. If you’re looking for your next job and there are some holes in your CV which recruiters might pick at, here are a few handy tips to help you explain the gaps.

•    Honesty is the best policy – Remember, there’s no point doing your best Pinocchio impression, because future employers will find you out. Be up front about the gaps. You don’t necessarily need to go into detail, but trying to extend your last period of employment or outright lying will never work out.

•    Take a positive attitude – If you spent most of your time out watching cat videos, don’t tell them that. Try to highlight the positives you took from the experience, even if it wasn’t your choice. ‘I couldn’t get a job’ might become ‘I took some time to re-evaluate my career options’. However you phrase it, make it sound like you weren’t wasting time.

•    Do something else – If you can’t find a job, think about doing something else you can plug the gap with. Voluntary work or a short course will add value to your CV. If you’re in the middle of a gap, try running your CV through the handy ValueMyCV tool to see what your current skillset is worth, and then you can decide what you need to do to give it a boost while you have time on your hands.

•    Have a story to tell – Whatever the circumstances, there are always ways you can put a positive spin on earlier chapters of your career. Tell them the story. Perhaps your last employer was downsizing, or your industry was particularly hard-hit by the recession, or you took the proactive step to leave because you no longer felt the role was challenging you enough and you wanted a change of direction.

•    Give as much information as you think they need – If you’ve had things you’ve needed to deal with - be they looking after a relative, raising children or a health issue – never say ‘I don’t want to discuss it’. Try and phrase things in such a way that they see you’re ready to re-enter the workforce, for example by letting them know you’re back to full health or your kids are at an age where they’re less dependent on you.

As well as valuing your current skillset, the ValueMyCV tool will also pick up on gaps in employment so you know where you need to paper over the cracks. The most important thing is that you have a ready answer when they ask about them. Make sure you’ve done your homework on the company and read up on the latest industry news, that way you can show them that despite the break in employment, you’re still up to speed and ready for work.


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