Employment gaps can be one of those areas you feel uncomfortable highlighting, but leaving them out could be more damaging to your job application than including them. Knowing how to explain employment gaps on your CV can be tricky, but with the right tips and advice, you can ensure your CV stands out positively.
In today's competitive job market where there are hundreds of applicants applying to every position it's easy to feel like you're not making your best impression. But the truth is, employment gaps on your CV can keep you from getting hired, as they make it more difficult for employers to evaluate your application and determine if you're the right fit for their company. Employers may worry that you are unemployed because you are difficult to work with, don't have the qualifications or motivation, or feel entitled. Even if your circumstances were beyond your control, have a plan in place before applying again so that any gaps will be explainable when they do occur.
Employment gaps are just another part of your CV that you need to be aware of. A recruiter who is looking to hire you may want to know why the break happened. It’s important that you don’t leave out the fact that you were gone because it gives them a reason to pass you over for another candidate. Before you decide what to write in the employment gap section of your CV, think about why you left. What happened that caused the gap? And why did you leave your last job?
How to make the most of your employment gap
If you have an employment gap it can be tempting to leave it off your CV. However, the fact is, recruiters are going to ask why you left your last job. If you don’t address the CV gap, you become a risk to hire. If you have a gap in your work history, you need to face the facts and not try to avoid the issue. There are many ways to make the most of your employment gap. Here are some:
You can showcase skills you gained during the time you were gone. Listing skills you gained during the time you were gone is a great way to show that you're a fully-fledged professional. In fact, it's one of the most important parts of your CV because it's a chance for you to show your skills and experience. This can include any volunteer or internship positions you had, as well as new skills that may not have been listed on your resume. For example, if you volunteered at an organization, include that in your description.
You can also mention any job coaching or training programs that helped prepare you for a new job. You can also list any new certifications or qualifications that you've earned since you left the company. This shows that you are continuing to learn and grow as an employee. If this is something that was relevant to your role at your previous job, then by highlighting it here, employers will know exactly why they should be interested in hiring you.
If you’ve taken time out of the workforce to raise children, make sure your resume shows that you're still an active parent. If you've been out for a long stretch, include information about any events or activities that may have kept you from working during that period.
The best way to present this information is with an objective statement — an opening line that states why someone should hire you for a job (and what they can expect from you if they do). Here are some examples:
“I’m an active parent who has been away from my career for several years while raising my family. I want to help children learn and grow by providing them with academic and social enrichment programs."
If you've had a medical or health issue that has made it hard for you to work, mention your recovery goals and the efforts you are making to get back on your feet. You could also explain that while this time off was necessary, it's important for you to continue working on these goals during the time frame of your unemployment.
How to explain the gap
There are many ways to explain your employment gap. You can write a brief narrative about your gap in employment or list your skills. You may also want to use a combination of these methods to make sure your CV is compelling. You can start your narrative or list of skills at any point in your career that makes the most sense. If you were fired, you will want to make sure to list the date you were fired and the reasons why. You want your recruiter to know the facts but also want them to know that you weren’t a bad employee. If you can’t explain why you were gone, it’s best to leave the employment gap section of your CV blank.
What not to do
There are many things you don’t want to do when explaining your employment gap. You don’t want to lie about the gap and claim you were working during the time you were gone. This is a surefire way to get caught, and it could cost you the job. If you can’t explain the employment gap in your CV, it is better to leave it blank than to fill it in with fake information. You also don’t want to write a generic narrative about the gap. Instead, write a compelling one that is specific to your situation. It’s important to be honest, but also to make sure the recruiter knows why you were gone and that you weren’t a quitter.
It's important to be aware of your employment gaps because they can make you a less attractive candidate. If you're looking to land a new job, it might be worth explaining your gaps in advance to the recruiter who is going to be reading your CV. It will help them understand that you have a job-seeking mindset and are ready to move on.