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How to Deal With an Employment Gap on Your CV
You only need to show the last 10 years of work experience on your CV, so it doesn’t matter if there is a gap before that. However, you will of course need to explain any recent gaps.
A short gap of a few weeks or even a couple of months can easily be explained by saying that you are looking for another job – which is the most common reason for a gap in employment. However, if the gap is large, there are better ways to explain it to a potential employer without giving it away.
Here are some top tips for understanding how to fill employment gaps in your CV:
Any period between jobs should ideally be active, and there are many ways to stay busy between jobs. For example, you can:
Do the research
Start a project, or even
Get additional training.
If your career is focused on a specific role or industry, the gap in your job should not only be filled by finding another role, but also by using that time to continue research and training in that role/industry. Any of the above will look great on a CV, and just won’t add a gap. Showing initiative and hard work during your unemployment period will also reflect positively on you as a person. Employers are fully aware of how competitive the job market is these days, so big gaps are forgiven when you’re looking for work. But even better if you stay active when you don’t have such a gap!
Be prepared to ask
The worst thing you can do is ignore the gap, hoping the employer won’t find it. We can promise you this won’t happen, because if your CV is shortlisted for a potential interview, your work history will be thoroughly read and acknowledged. It is very important for any employer to see how experienced you are before you come in for an interview.
Even if experience isn’t important, it won’t take long to notice a gap in your employment. However, if you add that distance as suggested above, you should have no problem. But you may still be asked about your time away from work, so be prepared to discuss what you’ve been doing. Having a predetermined answer will instill confidence in the fact that you were active during that time. Any hesitation in your response will make the interviewer doubt your sincerity.
Be honest about any gaps
“You need to account for breaks in your employment so that a potential employer doesn’t misinterpret a break in your career history. If you look at 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. Consider three options you have when it comes to bridging gaps in your work history. The first option is to hope they don’t see it, which is highly unlikely. The second is that you create a story to fill in the gaps – for example, stretching the previous role. A third option is to be completely honest about the gap – which is especially easy if you’ve been active during that time. The other option is that we would strongly advise against taking it, as it will most likely result in you getting caught. If at any time during the interview you are found to be untruthful about the employment gap, the interview is over and so are your job prospects. It’s also possible that the hiring manager will spot fakes while reading your CV, so you’ll never know why you weren’t called for an interview in the first place. After all, the employer has a reason to dismiss you if you want to get the job and they later find out you lied on your CV – no matter how small it may seem to you. In the end, it’s not worth the trouble because you’re taking a big risk when you’re honest with the employer from the start.
Don’t worry about taking a break
If the reason for your gap in employment is a holiday or gap year, don’t hesitate to explain this on your CV. There is nothing wrong with taking a long break and it is perfectly acceptable. Whatever the reason for your leave, make sure you detail the positives on your CV. In other words, add value to your CV by explaining what you’ve learned from your experiences. Always avoid saying it was just a holiday and nothing more. This may not go down well with the employer.
For example, let’s say you visited a few countries and experienced other cultures during your gap year – this would be something you could easily use to add value to your CV. For example, discuss several different cultures and interactions that taught you more about social behavior and communication. Maybe you were shy before you started your adventures, and now you’re more outgoing and confident in your abilities – and thus, ready to find employment with a stronger foundation of soft skills.
Don’t panic if you are sick
If you are away from work for personal health reasons, you no longer have to worry about what the employer will think. You don’t have to go into any detail if you don’t want to, and it’s perfectly fine to say you’re away for health reasons. Always put a positive spin on your situation by saying that you are now ready and excited to get back to work. Not working because of your own personal health issues or because you have to care for a family member is a part of life. Any reasonable hiring manager would understand and probably experienced something similar in their life. This should not hold you back and make you nervous about writing CVs and applying for jobs.
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