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How to explain gaps in employment on your CV
16 June 2017
You might be tempted to ignore gaps in your career on your CV in the hope that employers won’t notice them. But for many hiring managers, a CV that’s full of unexplained breaks is a warning sign and they might disregard your application straight away.
Being honest during a hiring process is essential in every job search, and this starts with your CV. If you lie or try to cover gaps by extending the months you worked somewhere, chances are you’ll be found out at the reference check stage; even if you have nothing to hide employers will be suspicious and put off.
Explaining a gap in your CV due to illness is sometimes tricky. If your career break was a long time ago, say more than 10 years, it’s probably not worth mentioning anyway. However, if the gap is recent, and long, you will have to acknowledge it and explain to some degree. The message you should be conveying in your explanation should be that, although you did have to take time out of work because you were ill, you’re now ready to go back to work.
Termination or redundancy
Employers probably won’t blame you for having some time in between jobs if you were made redundant or even fired (although you might have some other explaining to do if it’s the latter). What you should accentuate, however, is what you were doing during the break to stay marketable; for instance did you do any volunteer work or complete any additional training?
If the gap you have to explain is due to a break you took to go travelling it should be fairly simple for you to put a positive spin on this. Many employers will actually appreciate the fact that you’ve been travelling before you apply for a role at their organisation. For some it means you’ve ‘got it out of your system’ and for others it shows a sense of independence and cultural awareness.
Caring for family
Many people take time out of their career to raise their children or take care of a relative, so don’t think you should try and cover this up. However, 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.
It’s highly likely that you’ll be asked about career breaks during any interviews you get, so it’s best practice to have explained them already in your covering letter, thus avoiding any awkward questions at interview. You may still get asked, but only if the hiring manager needs more details.