Explaining gaps in your CV

Should you explain gaps in your CV or should you lie and cover them up?  Whether you’ve been travelling, unemployed, had a baby, been sick or even cared for a loved one, having a ‘gap’ in your career history can often leave you feeling awkward and lacking confidence when applying for a new job.

The only time you really don’t need to mention a gap on your CV is if the gap was a long time ago in your career history, or for a short period of time.  Otherwise, if the gap is substantial it is always best to be truthful.  You can also leave the explanation of your absence in your covering letter.  Otherwise, the truth will most certainly come back and haunt you should you omit it.

It could be that whilst you’ve been out of paid work you have been volunteering, attending workshops, courses, or improving your foreign language skills.  This information should certainly be included within your CV.

Each situation is different plus dependent upon your time in the industry, whether you have kept up any relevant studies or have networked within the industry, as long as you include anything relevant that could add value to your ‘absence’ you needn’t worry.

Have you done any freelancing or consultancy?  Don’t leave that out even if it’s for a short period of time.  That’s experience.

However don’t gush and enthuse about wanting to return to work (what potential employee wouldn’t want to get a job?)  Instead make a strong case for a future employer to want to employ you over others.

It could be that you may need to transform your CV from a more functional one to a skills based CV to highlight your abilities and strengths, instead of the career gaps.

Most importantly be proud, and confident, of your past.  If you don’t feel confident in your abilities it is highly likely a future employer won’t.  Remember situations give a person other skills.  Being sick, being a sole carer, being a mum – these are credible reasons for not working and the experience brings with it a whole range of hands on personal and practical skills that no masters degree could provide.

If you have been unemployed for a long time then it is crucial that you include positive actions that you have taken to improve your employability – any training for example.  Failing that any voluntary work.

There are always charities looking for people to help so whether you’re already employed, or have been looking for your next job for what seems like forever, voluntary work can provide you with skills that you may not have even tapped in to.  A great website to find a suitable local role is http://www.do-it.org.uk

Also, don’t think about exaggerating any employment – either the length of time, the roles or the responsibilities.  Most companies will seek references from your past employer.  Don’t risk it.

Most people have had a gap in their CV so be confident, believe in yourself and stay confident.

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