There are many reasons why you might have a ‘gap’ on your CV. Whether you took a sabbatical, had a career break due to personal reasons or simply took longer than you might have liked to find a job, it’s not something you need to try and hide.
What should you do?
1. Be honest
If you have taken a career break, you might try and hide the fact by extending the dates of previous jobs to cover the gaps, or simply decide not to account for the gap and hope it won’t be noticed. As with all things CV related, honesty is always the best policy. Do you really want to go into an interview with something to hide? You don’t have to go into great detail, but we’d always advise you to acknowledge the gap with a brief explanation.
2. Highlight the positives
Don’t assume that a career break will be seen in a negative light by an employer. There’s more to life than work, and sometimes taking a break from employment is the right thing to do. Whatever the reason for the break, make sure you emphasise the positives. For example, you might have taken the time to study or upskill, or seek opportunities in new industries. If this is the case, say so.
Alternatively, if you had a period of involuntary employment, be positive in your language. ‘Time spent searching for new roles in my desired industry’ sounds like a more productive use of your time than merely ‘unemployed’.
3. Prepare to discuss the career break in your interview
If you do make it through to the interview stage, think about how you’ll respond to any questions about the career break. The likelihood is that it will be something the interviewer will pick up on, so make sure you have a brief but honest answer prepared to explain why there was a gap and what you were doing during that time.
If you took a career break to change the direction you were going in, think about how you’ll tell the story of why you left prior employment and what you did during that time to boost your future prospects.
What shouldn’t you do?
1. Use non-specific dates
Rather than using precise dates for the duration of jobs, such as December 2017–February 2018, some applicants use non-specific dates to stretch out the period of employment. While putting 2017–2018 might help to remove some the gaps elsewhere, it’s a trick that recruiters and hiring managers are familiar with and are likely to pick up on.
2. Leave certain roles off your CV
Many of us have had jobs that we’d rather not include on our CV for one reason or another, but we’d always recommend you include a full and honest employment history. Failing to include all your job roles will only create further gaps that need to be explained.
3. Avoid talking about redundancies
If you’ve been made redundant and that has led to an involuntary period of unemployment, make sure you mention the details on your CV. There’s absolutely no reason not to include a redundancy; it will not reflect badly on you.
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