Explaining gaps in your CV
Life is complicated and sometimes it throws your career trajectory into a bit of a spin. Whatever the situation, you may find yourself with gaps in your CV that need dealing with. When crafting your CV and preparing to find a new job, you need to tackle these CV gaps head on with honesty. You also need to use a bit of flair in order reassure the interviewer that the reasons are legitimate, and thus alleviate any concerns.
“The absolute worst thing you can do here is lie, you will get found out.”
Ok so first of all, you need to be honest. Whatever you do, do not try to hide a gap with lies or overextend your previous end date in order to conceal the gap. It is so easy for recruiters and hiring managers to check. A simple reference check will uncover the truth and may leave you with egg on your face.
Tip: Honesty is the best policy. Lying about a career gap will ruin your chances, but a honest and well crafted explanation will be absolutely fine.
Secondly we recommend that you should always be optimistic in a job interview, and the same goes for explaining career gaps. Try your best to be positive about your reasons and avoid blaming other people or previous employers for your predicament. It looks much better when candidates remain positive, and it speaks volumes when a person can remain positive and focused on overcoming whatever situation they faced.
Tip: A cover letter is essential when explaining CV gaps. It allows you to explain your situation without clogging up your CV with explanations.
Use your cover letter as a means to introduce yourself, and showcase your skills and explain why you want to job and how you can be an asset. Write a few short paragraphs to explain any gaps in your employment so assumptions are avoided that may lead to negative first impressions. If you need help writing one, check out our list of winning cover letter examples.
Common Reasons for Career Gaps:
Caring for a family member
Interviewers should have enough empathy to understand that sometimes life can be difficult and can throw challenges in anyone’s way. Explain the situation; focus on your skills and experiences before you put your career on hold. Make sure you explain that you are ready to get back to work will add value to the company. Let’s face it, if a company isn’t sympathetic to your past issues, and fails to recognise the strength you possessed to put your career on hold for the sake of others, then maybe they aren’t the right company for you.
Starting a family
This is a really common reason for having a career gap, and possibly the easiest to explain. Having children and raising a family is one of the toughest and most rewarding jobs on Earth. With that in mind, please do not apologise for having kids! If you are ready to get back to work, explain how your situation has changed and describe what childcare you have in place that would allow you to work full time.
This is a tough one. You are not obliged to explain past illnesses, and it is not legal for an employer to ask about illnesses, in particular mental illness, as this could lead to discriminatory decisions being made. Employers will normally provide a health questionnaire which is designed to identify any illnesses or disabilities that can affect your ability to perform the role, and identify what changes or adjustments can be made to accommodate and assist you in the role. If you have a gap on your CV due to an illness and you feel like you want to explain, then that is your choice – simply reassure the reader that you have overcome the issue and ready to get back to work.
Don’t worry, redundancy happens. Explain what happened to the reader and try to remain positive. For example, if your employer went into administration, then say so without criticising those responsible for the downfall. Just be honest and focus on your skill set and the value you can add to a new role.