How should I address career gaps on my CV?
When it comes to CV writing, many professionals pull out all the stops in their efforts to impress prospective employers. Personal statements are crafted to perfection, skills neatly summarised and margins formatted to the millimetre.
A CV should present your skills and experience in the most positive light possible. For many of us, the easiest aspect of CV writing is highlighting the achievements we’re most proud of. And, perhaps the most difficult is covering career breaks without deterring any hiring managers who may be reading!
Will Employers ‘Mind the Gaps’?
Very few professionals remain continuously employed from leaving school to retirement. Most will take a career break at one time or another, and yet, there is a commonly held belief that employers will view any period when a jobseeker is not employed with suspicion. But, is this truly the case?
Kayleigh Ogley, Marketing Manager at Gradient Consulting offers the following advice to any jobseekers that are nervous about disclosing their career gaps:
“Valuable experience that you can apply to work situations isn’t only gained in the workplace, despite what you may think or have read. Whatever the reason for your break, a sound employer will want to know more about you, so use your CV as a way to show your character.”
We also believe you should be upfront about any career gaps on your CV and during interviews. Most employers will appreciate your honesty - and if they do not, consider whether you would really want to work for such a company ...
How should I disclose career gaps on my CV?
Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons for career breaks and how you can cover them honestly and positively:
Many professionals choose to take a break from employment to see a little more of the world. When writing up your travel experience, avoid simply resorting to the cliché that you went travelling to ‘find yourself’. Instead, focus on the skills and experiences you took away from the trip.
If you learned another language, mastered kayaking or honed your survival skills, don’t be afraid to mention it!
Although not directly work-related, writing about these experiences is a great way to showcase your personality. What’s more, if your prospective employer is as keen on travel as you are, your shared interest could make it easier to build a rapport at the interview!
Redundancy is a very common cause of CV gaps - and most employers acknowledge this. So, if you were made redundant from your last role, state the reason, as well as listing some positive highlights from your time with the company.
You may choose to give details of any projects that you’re proud of, training you’ve completed or qualifications earned. If there were times when you went above and beyond what was expected, be sure to mention this too.
You should state the time frame of your illness, although you do not need to disclose specific details. However, if you utilised this time to learn more about your industry, or completed online training, please say so on your CV. This will demonstrate that you are committed to your professional development.
Conclude this section by explaining that you now feel ready to return to work and why you think the role would be a good match for your skills.
Caring for a Friend or Loved One
Again, there is no need to disclose the reason why your friend or loved one required care. Simply state that you are now able to dedicate your time to a new role. Also, feel free to mention any skills you acquired whilst caring.
Maternity Leave and Looking After Children
Specify whether you took maternity leave, a career break to look after your children, or both. As always, highlight any positive experiences and life skills that you gained during this time.
Remember, there’s a good chance someone on the interview panel is a parent themselves. If so, your perspective on the joys and challenges of parenthood will surely resonate with them!
Resuming your Career with Confidence
Some professionals fear that career breaks will hurt their chances of a successful future. We hope our article has shown you that needn’t be the case!
If you are now preparing to take the next important step in your career, we wish you the very best of luck.
Matt Keleher - Agency Central Ltd