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How to explain a career break on your CV

*Guest Blog* CV Library

Explaining a career break on your CV can seem a daunting prospect, but you’re not alone. Career gaps exist for various reasons, from dismissal and globetrotting, to having children and caring for relatives.

Life happens, and employers are aware of this; you just need to make sure you know how to effectively explain your career break on your CV and prove you’re an excellent applicant worthy of an interview.

Here are some expert tips to consider.

Address the break head-on

Many job hunters assume that their career break is their downfall and feel the need to apologise for it. That’s their biggest mistake.
Employers are no stranger to candidates that have experienced a career break, and it’s down to you to present your leave as a time of gain, rather than a hindrance.
Address your break in the ‘employment history’ section of your CV with dates and a line or so explaining your gap.
If your break was quite short, you could specify the years you were in each position, rather than the months, so the gap isn’t particularly obvious to employers. Just make sure you don’t fabricate the truth by extending employment dates wherever you fancy – that’s likely to do more harm than good in the long run.

Identify your relevant skills

Your CV is your personal marketing tool and should be designed to show prospective employers why you’d make such a great addition to their organisation. As a result, your CV should highlight why you’re a great match for the position, rather than apologise for your shortcomings.
Think about what you learnt during your career break and how it made you a better employee. Also, consider your skills and abilities from previous positions of employment.
Then read through the job description and identify the essential requirements that you fulfil. Your CV must reference these terms as they will confirm that you’re suitable for the position.

Supercharge your CV with verbs and numbers

Now that your CV is taking shape, it’s time to make it shine. Your CV needs to make an impact to ensure you land an interview over your competition. The best and easiest way to do this is by utilising verbs and numbers to support your abilities and achievements.
A ‘verb’ is the technical term for a ‘doing word’. When used in your CV, they should clearly describe the actions you took in the workplace and during your break to prove you’re proactive and effective.

Here are some stand-out verbs that pack a punch:

– Managed
– Optimised
– Developed
– Created
– Increased
– Reduced
– Supported
– Resolved
– Improved

Numbers are verbs’ best counterpart as they are easily digestible and support your claims with tangible evidence.

Use numbers where ever you can to show prospective employers what you can bring to the table. If you increased sales, say by how much and if you brought on new clients, say how many. Be as specific as you can to show recruiters your value.

Make your personal profile work for you

Personal profiles can be tricky to form, especially if you have the daunting prospect of explaining your career break. Your personal profile should explain who you are, what you can bring to the table and why you’re applying for the position.
Make sure that you include your most pertinent points upfront and emphasise your key skills. Prove to employers that you’re ready to re-enter the workplace and you have a range of abilities in your repertoire that make you an extremely desirable hire.

Be aware of what’s not necessary

Many job hunters make the error of oversharing on their CV which can be detrimental to their job application. This is something to consider if you’ve been out of work for a while.

Be aware that employers are strongly discouraged to ask about your marital status and whether you have children or plan to have children, as this could be viewed as discriminatory as per the UK’s Equality Act. Therefore, these details have no place on your CV.

In addition, if you experienced a career break, your reasons don’t require in-depth detail. It’s perfectly acceptable to write ‘out of work due to personal circumstances’. If the employer wants more information, they may bring it up in the interview.

Keep in mind that the aim of your CV is to document your most outstanding, relevant skills to prove to employers that you’re a talented professional worth having on board – and no amount of time off can take that away.


This is a guest blog for Career-Mums written by Laura Slingo is Digital Copywriter for the UK’s leading independent job board, CV-Library. For more expert advice on job searches, careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages.

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