How to explain a gap in your CV

Wednesday 15. 2018

Though not always for a bad reason, a gap in your CV is something that is likely to stand out to a potential employer. It is something they’ll almost always pull you up on. You need not panic however about a ‘CV gap’. You just need to know how to explain it. 

There are many reasons why your CV may present a gap. Just a few of these reasons include education, volunteering, travel, unemployment and redundancy.

The good news is that they can often be explained and sometimes may even work in your favour. Employers typically love to see candidates who have done something unique in their lives and can take initiative. (So, travelling can be a big thumbs up). They also tend to favour those with extra qualifications. They may actually end up praising you for taking time from your employment for educational purposes.

All in all, a gap in your CV doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You just need to know how to work it to your advantage.

The golden rule is that honesty is the best policy. Lying about the gap might land you in troubled waters. Interviewers are only humans just like you and I and if you are honest and open with them rather than hiding things, they’re much more likely to be understanding.

Reasons you may have a gap in your CV, and how to explain it

Travel

Travel is one of the most common reasons that you may have a gap in your CV. It is becoming increasingly more popular to take a gap year for volunteering, or to simply seeing some of the world. Although travelling means you have been out of employment (per se) for a period of time, it also means that you may have picked up lots of applicable skills during that time. Work the gap to your advantage. 

Do say: “I took time out of employment to travel, to volunteer and to see the world. It helped me to find myself and to pick up many transferable skills such as teamwork and risk taking. All of which I believe could support me in this position.”

Don’t say: “I went travelling because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t learn much from it – but it was a laugh.”

Unemployment

Unemployment, unfortunately, is another of the most common reasons for a gap in the CV. People can become unemployed for a number of reasons, but that’s not important. What is important is what you do in your period of unemployment. How you cope with it and how dedicated you are to finding a new position.

Employers will often overlook a term of unemployment if you can prove to them that the situation was well in hand. If you was actively seeking work and using the time to reflect, then you can even use your unemployment to your advantage. It shouldn’t pose an issue as long as you are honest

Do say: “I’ll admit that I was unemployed for a short period of time. In that time however, I read up more about my the industry in which I want a career and used the time to actively seek a new job that’s right for me. My short period of unemployment taught me to grasp opportunities and always put my utmost effort in to things.”

Don’t say: “I’ll be honest, I was unemployed because I left my old job after not getting on with the manager. I was so demotivated afterwards that I didn’t look for a job for a long time after.”

Education

Some people may leave employment to delve back into education.

Whether this be for a training course or a higher education path, such as a degree. It’s not uncommon for individuals to make this decision in their earlier working lives. In some situations, one may even have worked for 30+ years before returning to education. Typically though, it’s common to see an individual who has worked for a few years before realising they want a degree to support their career.  

Obtaining more education often (not always) means that you are higher qualified for a job and have a more up-to-date knowledge of your industry. As long as you explain that you decided to undertake higher education for the greater good of your career; interviewers are likely to be pleased with this decision if anything.

Do say: “I decided in my late 20’s to go back to university to complete a masters degree. This helped me gain more knowledge within my field and means I am now more highly qualified for this job.”

Don’t say: “I went back to university because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. It was another good 2 years of partying for me, though.”

At the end of the day, as long as it is justifiable – a gap on your CV doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you have a gap on your CV and are worried about how this might affect your job search; get in touch with us to find out how we can help.