CV Gaps

cv gaps

Isn’t it about time we stopped looking at career gaps as a negative thing? Particularly over the last year or so with the pandemic looming over us, there has been a huge disruption to peoples employment situations including furlough, redundancy, career swaps, illness, reassessing priorities and much more.

Why Do People Have Gaps in Employment?

Life is unpredictable and sometimes things happen that are out of our control. Similarly, sometimes people need to take some time away from the working world for all sorts of reasons.

Some of the reasons for gaps in employment, putting coronavirus to one side, include taking a break to raise children, travelling, pursuing higher education, retraining to step into a different industry or to volunteer. These are just some of the examples of why a person may have a career break and therefore a gap in their CV between positions.

But not all career gap reasons sound as ‘positive’ as these. Potential reasons for a break from the corporate world include taking time out for mental health, ending a job to concentrate on finding a new one or struggling to find work after being made redundant or being let go. These are not necessarily negative reasons for having a career gap, but we’re often made to feel that they are and wonder how we will explain the gap away in interviews. 

As a general rule of thumb, be prepared to explain any gap of 3 months or longer

How should I explain my employment gaps?

Honesty is the best policy, we all know this. Sometimes a large career gap can draw quite a lot of attention from a potential employer and rather than it being a red flag, they will simply be intrigued about the gap and why it occurred. 

An employer who judges you for taking a career gap is not an employer you want to be working for

If you were unhappy in a previous position and you left voluntarily due to this reason – that’s fine! It doesn’t make you a bad employee, rather one that knows what they want, what they expect from a job and someone that is keen to have a job they are passionate about and enjoy. 

If you were out of work for some time due to mental health issues – that’s okay! It’s okay to not be okay and nowadays the workplace is much more aware and inclusive of those that are prioritising their mental health over anything else. Having a healthy work/life balance is something we all strive for and a potential employer will (and should be) comfortable with providing. 

When explaining how your employment gaps came about, you can pinpoint the positives of your time away from the workplace and highlight areas and reasons why you have benefitted from that time out. Whether you’ve been able to put together a portfolio of your best work, have had time to gather testimonials on LinkedIn about your work ethic, have started a passion project you’ve always wanted to begin or you’ve been using the time to upskill, retrain or simply take a breather… it’s always good to show that being away from work physically doesn’t mean you’ve been out of work mentally. 

Examples of activities you could have undertaken in your career gap include:

  • Freelance work (paid or voluntary)
  • Learning a new skill
  • Taking a class or classes
  • Reading books, papers and journals
  • Attending events within the industry

In summary: It’s not shameful or problematic to have employment gaps on your CV. If asked about them in an interview, explain them briefly and to the point. Don’t shy away from the question and keep it positive.

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