I’m delighted to welcome a guest post from CV-Library, the UK’s leading independent job board on a topic that comes up frequently for my one-to-one career and leadership clients.
How to address a career gap on your CV
There’s no reason to be ashamed if you have breaks in your CV, everyone needs some time out occasionally. You have two options for to how to deal with them when putting your CV together:
- You can either acknowledge them (and expect questions), or
- You can gloss over them.
But one thing you should never do is lie about them. You can expect to get caught out, and that would just be embarrassing.
For ideas on how to address a career gap on your CV, read on for our four top tips.
1. Format your CV efficiently
You should by now, be familiar with how to craft an awesome CV, and so you should also know that your CV must be tailored specifically to each job you’re applying for.
Your CV should never be a blow by blow account of every job you have ever had. Therefore, missing off a few irrelevant jobs could alleviate the need to include that six-month gap in employment.
Nor does your CV have to include the exact start and end dates of each period of employment, e.g. the day and the month. That’s just a level of detail that isn’t necessarily required.
You can get away with simply stating the start and end year that you were in each position, thereby allowing each role to flow into the next, without having to reveal any significant career gaps (of more than a year).
2. Don’t let your CV become an apology
Your CV is your way of highlighting why you’re such a great fit for the role you’re applying for. It should be shouting about your achievements, not apologising for any shortcomings.
For example, if you don’t have a certain skill that the company is looking for, we would advise you to think about what similar skills you can bring to the table, and talk about them. The same is true for a career gap.
If you have to address it, look for the positives that you took from it:
- How did it make you a better employee?
- What did you gain from your time away from the office?
- Did you learn any new skills?
- Gain any fresh experience that you could draw upon in the future?
By answering these questions, you’ll soon see that your career break has offered experiences that boost your employability.
3. Use the downtime wisely
If you’re in the middle of a career gap, then prove to potential employers that you aren’t sitting idly. Demonstrate your commitment to the industry, even if you haven’t been involved in it.
Retrain if you can: use the time to brush up on your industry’s key skill requirements. There are a wealth of free courses you can get started with.
Start by looking at the Open University’s free courses. Then register with your local Jobcentre (they work alongside government-funded, sector-based academies, so there should be something that you can get your teeth into). You will also find that the majority of these academies typically team up with a company to run the course, meaning there’s potential for gainful employment at the end of it.
Essentially, if you can show potential employers that you have been training, and not trailing behind your peers, you’ll be setting yourself up nicely to jump back into the workplace, either where you left off, or hopefully a little further ahead.
4. Be prepared to talk about it
Don’t let the career gap become the elephant in the room when you make it through to interview. Be ready to address it head on and prepare stock answers in advance, to prevent you getting flustered and attempting to waffle your way through it.
Remember, always make sure you keep it positive and focus on what you got out of it.
Finally, employers want employees who are keen to work in their company. So, if you can show that you’re enthusiastic about getting back into the industry, and are open and honest with recruiters (both desirable qualities in any employee), there’s nothing that can hold you back.