Having a gap in your employment history is more common than you might think, and there are many legitimate reasons why these gaps occur. When you’re back on the job hunt, prospective employers will be curious about these periods. Here’s how to address the most common reasons for career breaks confidently and positively.
Getting in there first
The career experts at Prospects.ac.uk suggest addressing employment gaps right in your cover letter. This pre-empts any potential concerns and shows that you’re forthright and proactive. However, if you don’t want to draw attention to your period of unemployment, you can also aim to address it at the interview stage, where you can impress your potential new employer with your other excellent qualities.
Disguising Short Gaps
For brief intervals of unemployment, strategic formatting on your CV can be your ally. “If it’s a short gap sandwiched between longer periods of employment, you can deflect attention by giving the dates of employment in years, rather than in months,” recommends Guardian Careers.
Gap Year or Travelling
In the modern job market, gap years and travel are increasingly common and often seen as enriching. Millions embark on such journeys annually. If you’ve travelled, share how these experiences have broadened your perspective and equipped you with unique skills. Assure your potential employer of your commitment and readiness to dive into your career with renewed energy. If you undertook any volunteering work relevant to your career while you were away, that’s even better.
Balancing honesty with privacy, explaining health-related gaps can be delicate. As recommended by Monster.co.uk, a straightforward approach works best. You might say something like, “I made a tough decision to leave work due to a medical issue. It’s now taken care of and I’m ready to get back to work.”
Many people take time out from their careers to have a family, but you need to reassure your employer that you’re committed to your work. “It might be worth mentioning that your children are now in full-time education/childcare or that you no longer have care commitments and are ready to return to your career,” say recruiters Michael Page. In your application, emphasise that you maintained your skills and qualifications and kept up to date with your industry, as well as the fact that you’re returning to work because you want to be there, not out of necessity.
Caring for a Relative
It’s best to be honest about this situation, even if it is of a sensitive nature, recommend recruitment site reed.co.uk. Rather than saying you have gaps in your CV due to personal issues that you would rather not discuss, get straight to the point and say something like: “I’ve spent the last year caring for a sick relative. Their health has now recovered and I’m ready to re-enter the workforce.” This will eliminate any doubts from your potential employer.
Redundancy or Job Searching
During periods of redundancy or job-seeking, demonstrating that you’ve been proactive is key. Engaging in courses, volunteer work, internships, or personal projects shows initiative. It’s an opportunity to enhance your employability and fill your CV with valuable experiences.
If you’ve been let go, Guardian Jobs also notes that it’s not always necessary to list a short-lived job (or one that was more than a decade ago). If you do need to include it, focus on the positives and what you learned, and be prepared to articulate how these lessons have prepared you for future roles.
In summary, transparency, plus a focus on growth and the value you bring to the table, is generally the best approach to explaining CV gaps. By framing these periods as times of development and preparation for your next career phase, you turn potential obstacles into opportunities.