How to Explain Gaps in your CV…

It’s always horrible when you’re asked “Why are there gaps in your CV?” Many people dread interviews due to being asked about periods of time when they were out of work. However, this gap could be because of a variety of reasons; from sickness, to travelling to being made redundant.

Although employers should look more at skills and experience, they do have a tendency to question periods of unemployment which can jeopardise your chances of getting that job.

As a candidate, you need to be prepared to answer questions about gaps on your CV and try to redeem your CV by following the steps below:

Be Resourceful

It isn’t entirely necessary to include every single bit of work history you’ve had since your first job; if you’ve been within the same company for many years but held different positions, this is where detail would come into it as the role should be described. Otherwise, keep it relevant but do be prepared to answer questions about other jobs you may have had that were less relevant. It’s acceptable to limit the years of experience you include on your CV to fifteen years when applying for a managerial or professional position and ten years when applying for a technical or high tech job.

Alternatively, address these gaps in employment on your CV or in your cover letter, this ensures that recruiters or employers don’t overlook your CV due to these gaps, but can see the reason for them which could encourage them to read on and not dismiss your CV.

Be Honest

The worst thing to do, when asked about gaps in your CV, is to lie! Most good hiring managers will see right through you or they could contact your previous employer to verify your employment then, if the employer has suspicions or catches you lying, it could then ruin your chances of a job offer or a second interview.

Be Proactive

If you’re finding it hard to secure a new job and feel that gaps on your CV could be to blame, try and change this otherwise it is just going to get worse. Instead of allowing the gap in your current unemployment to get bigger, use this time to take up a voluntary position or take a course. This will show the employer that you’ve been using your time effectively, and it could allow you to gain skills and qualifications desired by the company and the experience you need, which in turn could increase your chances of employment.

Be Positive

If you haven’t be exactly proactive during your time of unemployment, try and put a positive spin on it, changing phrases from ‘I couldn’t find a job’ to ‘ I decided to take time out to refocus myself and pursue a career within a desired industry’ – which can allow these gaps to look deliberate rather than negative against you.

Also, try and make these gaps sound positive. Focus on what you have learnt within this time and what skills you were able to develop from the new experiences. Use this time to turn a potentially negative situation into a positive one where you come across as being possible more employable.

Be Prepared

If you are able to gain interest in your CV, the next step is most likely an interview. During this time, it is inevitable that you will be asked about these gaps. This is likely to be in a face to face situation, but even on the telephone, your voice can give away uncertainty and in some cases false information. Therefore, ensure to be prepared to answer these questions and try to use your honest reasons in a positive way; such as showing how the reasons for the gaps in your CV have bettered your chances of employment, your skills and life experiences.

For example:

If you have been unemployed due to going travelling for the last 6 months, say:

  • ‘I took 6 months out to go travelling and immerse myself in different cultures. From this I feel that I have gained some very valuable life lessons and a new perspective. But now I am ready to settle down and start focussing on a career.’

Rather than saying:

  • ‘I went on a 6 month holiday because I wasn’t ready to settle down – it was crazy, I don’t remember most of it.’

If your unemployment was down to family issues, say:

  • ‘I have spent the last 6 months caring for my mother who was sick. But her health has now recovered and I’m ready to re enter the workforce.’

Rather than saying:

  • ‘I’ve had some personal stuff happening which I’d rather not talk about.’

If redundancy is what caused the gaps in your CV, say:

  • ‘The company I worked for was forced to make a series of budget cuts. Their policy was ‘first-in, last-out’, and unfortunately I was relatively new to the company so I was made redundant. However, I learned a lot from my time working there and gained many adaptable skills. All of this can be verified by my manager there who is happy to provided a reference for me’

Rather than:

  • ‘No one liked me there. My colleagues were trying to get rid of me from day one and my supervisor had it in for me.’

Also, within preparation, ensure to research the company in as much detail as possible in order to prove to the interviewer that although you have been out of work, your passion for the profession has not been affected or altered.

Gaps in your CV shouldn’t jeopardise your chances of getting that job. So stay honest, positive, proactive and prepared and that job could be yours!

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