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How to deal with an employment gap in your CV

6th September 2019

Having an employment gap of a few weeks is no big deal when it comes to writing a CV. But if you were out of work for months or even years, you may find it a problem when looking to get hired.

You know you have the skills, qualifications and experience to shine in the role. You also know that if you make it through to the job interview stage you’ll blow your competition out of the water. But if you don’t explain that employment gap, you probably won’t even get to see the hiring manager in person.

Here’s how to deal with an employment gap in your CV.

Lots of work experience can help

If the employment gap was many years ago, you may not need to worry. It may be possible to simply state the year and ignore the month when listing jobs from many years ago.

Most employers are not interested in reading about a job you had many years ago, and would appreciate a minimum amount of detail. As such, if you only state the year of employment this will mean a gap won’t even show on your CV. Don’t however try and trick the employer by doing this with recent roles. They would always want to see accurate month to month timelines.

Use your cover letter to explain

With an obvious gap in your work history it may be difficult to explain on your CV. However, a cover letter would be a great place to start. It will allow you the freedom to express your thoughts and clarify exactly what happened.

If you choose not to write a cover letter then you could also consider a brief sentence or two within your personal statement. Although not typically the best place to tackle an employment gap, it would still be far better than no explanation at all.

We would highly recommend writing a cover letter, not just to explain an employment gap, but to also introduce yourself and your CV. Not everybody chooses to write a cover letter, and if written professionally you can get ahead of the competition.

You can find more advice on writing a cover letter here.

Be completely transparent and honest

If a potential employer finds out you lied, they won’t feel they can trust you on other important things such as your skills and qualifications. You could walk yourself right out of the opportunity. Tammy Homegardner @ Forbes

Honesty is always the best policy – in every single aspect of your CV. The employer will appreciate your transparency if you explain an employment gap. It will also prevent them from trying to work it out themselves and becoming suspicious.

If you choose to lie about the gap you could be caught out. Even if they don’t suspect anything wrong at the CV stage, they could catch you out during the interview when questioned further.

Above all else, don’t be embarrassed about your employment gap and just tackle the issue head on. They will thank you for it and you’d also be surprised at how easily dismissed it is. For example, if you were out of work for personal health reasons you will most likely find that the hiring manager has experience with this too. Everybody is human and sometimes things can’t be helped.

Show your high level of integrity and honesty to the employer and you may just find that you are looked at more favourably than other candidates.

Keep busy

If you have a long gap between jobs, fill that time with productive activities and include those activities on your resume and LinkedIn Profile. Jeff Lipschultz @ Job-Hunt.org

There are ways to prevent a gap in the future – and that’s to keep busy. There are lots of options that you can consider when facing a lengthy spell out of work; the difficulty however is not knowing how long you will be out of a job.

  • If you are out of work but have no health problems and are simply searching for the next position, then you might not need to worry. However, as the weeks roll by and that gap gets larger, you may want to consider a prevention tactic.
  • Look for part time work or consider volunteering. Volunteer work can also be a fantastic way of remaining proactive, and will look great on your CV. Giving up your free time to get paid zip will work in your favour. Employers see this is a selfless act and will assume you are a hard working person who would be willing to go above and beyond for them.
  • Volunteer work will also help continue to develop your soft skills, like communication, customer interaction, problem solving, and much more. This would be really helpful for recent graduates who have little or even no work experience.
  • You could also consider taking a course – either online or at a local college. If you know you will be out of work for a lengthy spell, then taking a course will help to keep your brain active. It will also look great on your CV and add another qualification to your list.

Pick something relevant to your career so you stay focused. As a side note, you should continue to keep your finger on the pulse by reading current affairs. Stay in touch with your chosen career and continue to stay connected.

Want to know more? Watch this video by Antony Stagg:

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