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How to Deal With an Employment Gap on Your CV
You only need to show approximately the last 10 years of work experience on your CV, so if there are any gaps before then it won’t matter. However, you will of course need to explain any recent shortcomings.
A short gap of a few weeks or even a couple of months could easily be explained by stating that you were looking for another job, which is the most common reason for an employment gap. If however the gap was longer, there are still great ways to explain it to a prospective employer without putting it off.
Here are some helpful tips to help you figure out how to fill a job gap on your CV:
Any time between jobs should ideally be proactive and there are many ways to keep busy between jobs. For example, you could:
start a project, or even
undergo additional training.
If your career is centered around a particular role or industry, then not only should your employment gap be filled by looking for another role, but by using that time to continue researching and training in that role/industry. Any of the above will look great on a CV and won’t just fill a gap. It will also reflect positively on you as a person as you show initiative and hard work during your time of unemployment. Employers are fully aware of how competitive the job market is nowadays, so they would forgive a large gap when looking for a job. But when you don’t actually have a gap as such if you have to continue to be proactive then even better!
Prepare to be asked
The worst thing you can do is ignore the gap in the hope that the employer won’t notice. We can promise you that will not be the case, because if your CV is selected for a potential interview, your work history will be fully read and recognised. It is extremely important for any employer to see how experienced you are before coming in for an interview.
Even if experience isn’t important, it won’t be long before your job vacancy is spotted. If however you close that gap as suggested above, you shouldn’t have any problems. But you may still be wondering about your time away from work, so be prepared to discuss what you’ve been up to. Having a pre-planned response will instill confidence that you were proactive during that time. Any kind of doubt in your answer will make even the interviewer question your sincerity.
Be honest about any gaps
“You need to account for lapses in your employment so a potential employer doesn’t misinterpret a break in your career. If you approach it positively, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Above all, be transparent when it comes to every aspect of your CV, especially any employment gaps. Think about the three options you have when it comes to addressing a gap in your employment history. The first option is to hope they don’t see it, which is extremely unlikely to happen. The second is to fabricate a story to fill the void, for example by lengthening the previous role. The third option is to be completely honest about the gap, which is especially easy if you’ve been proactive during that time. The second option is the one we strongly advise against taking, as it will most likely get you caught. If at any point during the interview it is discovered that you are not being truthful about the employment gap, then the interview is pretty much over as well as your chances of a job. It’s also possible that the hiring manager figures out the falsehood as he reads your CV, so you may never know why you weren’t called in for an interview in the first place. Finally, the employer has reason to fire you should you get the job and they later find out that you lied on your CV, no matter how small it may seem. In the end, it’s not worth it because you’re taking a huge risk when you could be honest with the employer from the start.
Don’t worry about taking a break
If the reason for your break in employment is due to a holiday or gap year, please do not hesitate to explain this in your CV. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break for an extended period of time, and it’s perfectly acceptable. No matter what the reason for your holiday, make sure you detail the positives on your CV. In other words, add value to your CV by explaining what you have learned from your experiences. Always avoid stating that it was just a vacation and nothing more. This may not go over very well with the employer.
Say for example you visited a few countries during your gap year and experienced other cultures – this would be something you could easily use to add value to your CV. For example, discuss the many different cultures and interactions that have taught you the most about social behavior and communication. Perhaps you were quite shy before setting out on your adventures, and are now much more outgoing and confident in your abilities – and therefore, ready to look for a job with a much stronger foundation of soft skills.
Don’t panic if you were sick
If you were off work for personal health reasons, again you shouldn’t worry about what an employer might think. You don’t have to go into detail unless you want to too, and simply stating that you were away for medical reasons is perfectly fine. Always put a positive spin on your situation by saying that you are now ready and willing to get back to work. Not being able to work due to personal health issues or because you had to care for a family member is a part of life. Any reasonable hiring manager will understand and probably have experienced something similar in their own life. It shouldn’t hold you back and make you nervous about writing a CV and applying for a job.
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