Unemployment, sabbatical, parental leave, career break, having children etc, there are many reasons why there may be a gap in your CV between leaving one position and taking up the next.
It’s a common belief that this is a bad thing, that a prospective employer will be suspicious of a person whose career doesn’t show constant employment and advancement. This fear can be so strong it can drive people to massage start and leave dates to mask the shameful secret.
The truth is that employers are used to seeing gaps. The days of long continuous service with just one or two companies are long gone. Modern careers are likely to show increased mobility, lower job security and frequent disruption. So how can you explain these gaps and turn what could be a tricky interview situation into an opportunity for a personal branding masterclass?
Here are some tips to help you...
Play up the positives around the reasons for the gap in your CV. Don’t lie but make sure you don’t dwell on negatives that may be involved. If you were made redundant then focus on what you did to get your next role, if you resigned then be clear that it was a positive choice to take control of your career. It’s important for you to be honest but concise, explain clearly to the interviewer. Prepare yourself and turn your explanation into a clear narrative that shows you in the best light and remember most interviewers are used to meeting candidates with gaps on their CV nowadays so they’ll be ready to explore this.
Interviewers are always looking to find out what you’re like as a person and how you portray your career gaps can have a big impact during an interview. Explaining how a career break was a chance to recharge your batteries and refocus your life is much more likely to impress than saying you were bored in your last role. Returning after having children should not be a sad thing but a chance to refind yourself and a welcome opportunity to use some new skills you’ve learned like prioritising or multi-tasking. In your CV or during an interview, always emphasise the positive outcomes of your previous experience and make it an asset.
Make yourself more attractive by playing up travelling as something that has made you deeper as person or someone who is now more resourceful. Did you pick up any language skills, maybe you brushed up your computer skills with some online learning. Show you’re proactive and that you were not passively waiting for a job to find you.
Spend some time on professional social networks to find job listings and related competencies, read and learn more about your jobs industry and use this information on your resume.
In your cover letter, always mention your unemployment periods in a positive way. By doing this, the interviewer will already be aware about it and you’ll probably feel more confident going into your interview and answering the questions they may have around these vacant periods.
To conclude, a gap on your CV will not always be considered as a negative. Just always remember to be honest and transparent and most importantly believe in yourself!