If you have an interview coming up, you’re probably thinking about all the experience you have and how it might be relevant to the new role. You’ve probably prepared an answer for every aspect, explaining what you did and what you learned.
But as the recruiter scans your CV and follows the dates, they spot a gap and ask about it. Suddenly, you don’t know what to say.
A CV gap could be there for a number of reasons. You might have taken extended leave to look after your children, you might have needed a break for health reasons, or you might have just left one job and taken some time out before going back to another one.
Whatever the reason, you may not feel comfortable sharing it. Even if you do, how can you explain it without putting off potential employers?
Mind the gap
Honesty is the best policy. Research shows that a hiring manager faced with an unexplained career gap will deduce that the applicant is less honest than the average person and this could raise question marks. Therefore it is appropriate to treat the career gap as a job role with start and finish dates.
Employers will respect you if you provide a brief explanation for any periods that you haven’t been formally employed and give details of any skills you have learned during your break, be they formal qualifications or otherwise. Your focus needs to be on the transferable skills that you learned during this break in employment so that you can show you will add value to the workplace.
Be honest but unapologetic
For jobseekers who are worried about gaps that took all their focus and didn’t give them an opportunity to upskill, these should still be mentioned without any fear of stigma.
Taking time out to have children is fine and make no apology for this, however it would be worth mentioning that your children are now in full-time education or childcare, letting employers know that you are absolutely ready to return to your career.
Likewise, if you’ve taken a career break due to illness, it is worth highlighting that you are now fully better and fit to return to work.
An explained gap or two is fine, but when your CV has more than that, concern may start to set in. This is where the structure of your CV can really come into play.
A functional CV focuses on skills and achievements. The majority of the CV is used to provide examples that support a specific skill set, with academic qualifications and employment history summarised and cut down. By structuring your CV in this way, gaps in career history stand out far less to the hiring manager.
Your CV needs to convince a prospective employer that you understand your field and ultimately, the role you are applying for. It is important to invest the time and effort in updating your CV before applying for roles and making sure that it is going to work effectively for you to get you short-listed for interviews.
Getting the job
It is critical to ensure your CV, including any gaps, plays to your strengths and you should be prepared to discuss your gaps with confidence. You need to be prepared to show a calmness and clear narrative at interview. Afterall, the hiring manager wants to be able to easily imagine you fitting into the organisation and being able to perform in the role you have applied for – it is your job as the applicant to make it easy for them to see this.
If you need help to explain your career gaps or build your confidence to succeed at interview, contact Career-Mums for further support www.career-mums.co.uk.