Jan 23, 2023
Here's How To Handle Career Gaps On Your CV – The Right Way
Despite what you might think, career gaps really aren’t the end of the world. The reality is that many people will have to take a break from work at some point in their lives. Recent worldwide events have most definitely made this more prominent than ever, with 1 in 3 adults having taken a 6-month or more career gap. Since the pandemic, cost of living crisis, and supply chain problems, many people have found themselves deciphering how to navigate career gaps in their CVs.
And in fact, research has found that candidates with a current gap in their CVs didn’t receive significantly different callback rates from those without. It’s just a matter of handling and explaining them in the right way.
We’ve compiled a selection of our top tips on how to master your CV even with career gaps.
Don’t try to hide gaps or cover them up. We’ve seen a few examples where candidates have ‘stretched’ employment dates and this has been uncovered when we have checked references. The candidate could come out of the whole thing looking dishonest and could raise doubts in the employer’s mind.
Some candidates caveat this by writing on their CV the date period they weren’t working and stating briefly what they were doing during this time.
Jan 2022 – May 2022
Recovering from surgery
Sep 2021 – Dec 2021
Seeking suitable employment following redundancy from previous employer
Aimee Gleave: When a candidate is honest about the reasons they weren’t working, then in my experience, it usually isn’t an issue
Keep it simple
Although it may be a good idea to add date periods to your employment gaps on your CV, it is important to remember to keep the explanation very brief and the dates consistent. Aim for informative, not emotional, and don’t take too long explaining, or meandering with your summary. Often, the more you over-explain, the more you tend to seem like you are hiding something. Try and predict questions from interviewers and answer these in your summary, so as not to dwell on this period for too long in an interview.
James Lawson: Be brief, but sell it!
Be confident and positive
Don’t be worried or embarrassed about gaps! There are plenty of justifiable reasons why someone might have a gap on their CV. If handled in the right way, there should be no issue, especially if you turn it into a positive. For example, A ‘I project managed a barn conversion’ is very different to ‘ I pottered around the house completing odd jobs for nearly 3 years’ but either could be true with the above statement. Additionally, it is important to reflect on your career break and identify how it benefited you as a person.
This may, at times, be easier with some situations than others. You may have taken some valuable time to focus on raising your children or gaining life experience when travelling. However, it is important to remember to take the benefits from everything. You may have been made redundant, this could mean you were given time to re-evaluate your career and what you are looking for. It is also important to remember not to portray any animosity when discussing old jobs, no matter how they may have ended. Instead, focus on how you spent any spare time developing yourself (courses, wider reading, other interests).
If you follow the guidance above, you will likely get through to interview stage easily. When you get to this stage it is important to be prepared. Chances are the conversation over your career gap will come up. Before interviews, it’s a good idea to go over any summaries you have provided in your CV, think of any questions that may be asked surrounding them, and prepare answers. This way you will be able to give answers as succinct and effective as what you have written down previously.
A summary of our Dos and Don’ts
Be honest, yet succinct.
Prepare a concise statement to explain the situation and to use in each interview.
Be accurate on dates
Be positive about the experiences gained during this time and how they enriched you as a person and a potential employee
Take too long explaining, meandering with your summary
Be unsure of dates and or be inconsistent with your CV
Be derogatory to previous employers
Seem like you are hiding something
Be worried or embarrassed
Not everyone finds CV writing easy, that’s why it might be useful to source outside advice from those who know what they’re doing. Here at Cast, we have many resources to help you write a winning CV. We also have resources to provide guidance on social media and interviewing techniques to help you.
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