Do you have career gaps in your CV and dread future employers bringing them up with you in interviews?
Well, don’t worry. Because the truth is, most people have employment gaps on their CV. And this trend continues to increase as our working lives become longer.
There are many reasons why you might have a career gap on your CV. You might have spent your time away from the workplace to look after children, you may have been studying, travelling, caring for a relative or looking for a job after a redundancy.
There are ways you can explain these gaps to an interviewer in a way that actually sells you as a candidate. Here’s how.
Explaining gaps in your CV
Here are some general principles you should remember when you try to explain gaps in your CV.
Structure your answer well. Briefly start by explaining why you were unemployed during that time, then go on to explain what you did, and lastly emphasise why you think this is the right opportunity for you.
When explaining how you’ve spent your time out of the workplace, it’s important that you demonstrate that you’ve done something productive and proactive. For instance, if you’ve been doing consulting on the side, studying or volunteering, or even keeping up with industry news, you should mention this, as well as the skills you’ve learnt.
Focus your answer on how you used your time, and why you think this is the right role for you, rather than going into specifics about the reason for the gap.
Whatever the reason is, be open and honest with your answer, without going into unnecessary detail.
Use positive language and don’t apologise for taking a break or having a gap.
Five of the most common CV gaps and how to explain them
Caring for a relative
There is no need here to go into the specific details of your relative’s illness or your duties as a carer (unless this directly relates to the role you’ve applied for). You should also let the interviewer know that your relative has now recovered, or that you have put more support in place, which will allow you to carry out the work required for the job you’re interviewing for. Explain that you are ready to re-enter the workplace, and why this role excited you.
A previous role was made redundant
Briefly explain that your role was made redundant and why - was it due to restructuring or perhaps budget cuts? Treat the role that was made redundant the same as any other role on your CV and provide some examples of strong performance or achievements while you were there. Try to spend more time explaining how you have used your time away from the workplace, and why you think the position you’ve applied for is a good fit
Focus on the reason/s why you decided to go travelling, emphasising your quest for personal development, increased cultural awareness and gaining new perspectives. Remember to make it clear that you’re now ready to return to work. Explain why this opportunity particularly excites you and if you learned anything whilst travelling that could bring fresh perspective to the role.
Explain that you took time out to prioritise your family and look after your children. Focus on why you now feel ready to go back to work and what you’re excited about. Provide details on why you think this position is a good fit for you.
Return to education
Explain why you decided to go back to education – such as the specific skills you wanted to build or the qualification you wished to gain. Emphasise that you are dedicated to personal development and think your skills would be helpful in this role.
Remember that there’s no shame in having gaps on your CV. Gaps in your career aren’t something you should hide from an interviewer, or feel you have to skirt around. So, when you’re asked about any gaps on your CV by an interviewer, answer honestly and confidently, providing concrete examples of how you’ve proactively used your time outside of the workplace, and importantly, why you’re so excited about the position you’re applying for.
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