CV gaps are not necessarily a turnoff for potential employers. It’s the way you communicate and explain these gaps that can let you down.
Perhaps you were made redundant, or you may have taken some time out to travel, to study, to start a family, to concentrate on your health or maybe the health of someone you care for – whatever it is, unemployment happens.
But how do you explain your CV gaps and give yourself the best chance of getting a new job?
Explaining CV gaps on application
To ensure you’re getting past the first stage, it’s best to address your employment gaps in your application.
Firstly, it is perfectly acceptable to list years instead of months when listing your work experience on your CV. This is helpful when you have gaps that are a few months or less.
For significant periods of unemployment, keep it in the same format as you use to list your work experience. Give a brief description of what you were doing, and highlight anything constructive which you did during your time off.
Just because you were unemployed, doesn’t mean you didn’t gain valuable experience.
For example, if you took a travelling break it may look something like this:
“I took some time out to fulfill a lifelong ambition and travel.
During this time I used my research and planning skills to designate sufficient time in each location to explore, arrange transport in remote countries, and book accommodation in safe areas.
The trip built upon my cultural knowledge and understanding of people, skills that, I believe, are invaluable for an international organisation.”
or if you were made redundant:
“Immediately after being made redundant, I started my job search. There have been a number of positive interviews but I’m still searching for the right fit.
During my time off work, I’ve focused on my reading and have taken advantage of the free time that I have to build on my professional skills.”
Organisations receiving your job applications don’t need to know the whole story, just enough so that they don’t make any assumptions.
Explaining CV gaps in an interview
If you’ve reached the interview stage with a gap in your CV it proves that your potential employer is willing to look past your time out of work. However, it will be the interviewer’s duty to understand your experience, and any gaps in your employment, so they can make a fair assessment.
Prepare a concise answer to explain your CV gaps. You should be honest and clear, but finish confidently and emphasize positive aspects of your time off.
“You must be prepared to talk about it. If an interviewer senses reluctance or avoidance in answering questions about gaps, it creates distrust and distance, which will work against you. That doesn’t mean you need to go into every detail, either.”
You don’t need to mention your CV gaps but if your interviewer asks about them, be open about your situation, human beings are very understanding. They’ll want to know that, whatever the reason for your unemployment is, you’re ready and eager to join them now.
If you are interviewing, best of luck!
If not, and you’re looking for a new role in IT, you can submit your CV below and we’ll get in touch with anything relevant.