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There are plenty of reasons why you may have employment gaps and recent events have meant that gaps in your CV are more common than ever before. Whether it's taking a break for your mental health, having time off to spend with your children, or being made redundant, these are all perfectly reasonable explanations. However, we understand that knowing how to approach these gaps in your CV during both the job application and interview process can be a challenge.
That’s why we’ve listed our 5 top tips for addressing employment gaps in your CV to help you land the job you’ll love. Read on to find out more.
This may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s one that many candidates brush over for fear of rejection. Prospective employers are going to value you more for your honesty and the right employer will be understanding of your situation. Be upfront with your employer about your career break but avoid going into too much detail as this will deflect from all your positive achievements and skills that make you a perfect fit for the role.
You will inevitably be asked about recent employment gaps in your CV at interview, so preparation is key. Provide a short, succinct answer that links back to your experience and further supports that you are a good fit for the role.
“Over the past 2 years, I have dedicated my time to being a full-time mum to my children. Now that they are of age to go to school, I am keen to return to work full-time and further develop my skills as an administrator and delve into a new challenge with your company.”
Only reveal more about your career break if asked, as your short description alone should be enough. Be confident in your delivery and avoid apologising or sounding uncertain to reassure your employer that you are ready for the next step and that this employment gap hasn’t held you back but instead has been a positive learning experience.
Reframe your employment gap to show you in a positive light. Some employment gaps are unavoidable and pretty self-explanatory such as illness but for many of them, it's best practice to draw on what you have learned from this experience and how you positively utilised the time.
For example, if your career break was caused by burnout, you can turn this into a positive by saying you took the time away for personal growth and development. Perhaps you took the time to learn new skills, hone in on hobbies you never had the time for before, or even travel-ultimately, you will need to demonstrate to your prospective employer that your time away was purposeful. When asked at interview about your career break, highlight the positives of your previous role, followed by a short explanation of your career break, and end on a high by saying you are ready for the new challenge that lies ahead.
Instead of using space on your CV to explain your employment gaps, use your cover letter to elaborate on your career break, but you first need to decide if addressing the gap in your CV is appropriate. If you have a career gap from a few positions or years ago, mentioning the career break on your CV would serve no purpose or relevance. Whereas if you have been out of work for some time and you are applying for your first job back, it’s well worth mentioning this in your cover letter to address any concerns before the interview stage.
It’s not necessary to include your whole career history in detail, your CV should be succinct and easy to follow. If you have career gaps from five positions ago, it’s fine to scale back on the information you include as it’s less likely you’ll be asked about this at the interview and it’s less relevant. You can adapt your CV for employment gaps by removing the month of employment and only including the year. You may also want to consider adopting a skills-based CV model over the traditional chronological CV as this will place more emphasis on your skills and personal qualities rather than your employment history.
Hopefully, these tips have made tackling employment gaps a little less daunting and you can go into your next interview full of confidence. Remember, gaps in employment are more common than you think and the right employer won’t be deterred from hiring you providing you give reasonable explanations.
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