Let’s face it – when it comes to our careers and employment experiences, very few of us will have textbook journeys. In an ideal world we’d leave school, college or uni and then just seamlessly move onwards and upwards in our preferred career. The reality however can be very different – we don’t always move from job to job that easily and for one reason or another many of us will have periods of relative inactivity – whether it’s through choice or not.
The thing to remember though is that when we create our CV, we need to ensure that we have fully explained any such ‘inactive periods’ – we need to ensure that the recruiter or hiring manager is aware from the off of the reasons for any of those gaps. We’ve put together a few tips on how to handle gaps on your CV that we hope will help.
First and foremost, don’t make the major mistake of lying on your CV in a bid to disguise the truth – you will get found out. Whether your reason for a gap is due to forced redundancy, or illness or family commitments, don’t feel that you have to lie about it. When it comes to CVs, honesty is always the best policy. False information and facts will only serve to prevent you getting a job, not help you.
If you are at that ‘between jobs’ stage at the moment, then try to do something about it before you are dealing with a major CV gap. No matter how dire the economic situation is where you are, you can still be proactive and improve your employability in so many ways. Why not undertake some voluntary work? Contact your local charities and community groups and see if you could lend a hand – many have very structured roles and opportunities for their voluntary staff. You could also undertake some additional training or education – you may after all be able to avail of free or discounted rates. The key thing is to get out there and do something worthwhile that you can add to your CV and thereby fill any unintentional gaps.
It’d be very easy to get bogged down in negativity when you are faced with explaining a CV gap. This however is not what an employer wants to hear. To give yourself the best chance of impressing an employer, make sure that you use positive language and thereby put a positive spin on things when explaining any gaps in your employment or career journey. Concentrate on explaining how you used such gaps to focus on other things – from skills development to pursuing other interests.
If you make it through to interview, it’s likely that you may be asked some questions about any gaps on your CV, regardless of how well you have explained them on your CV. Like with every interview then, the key thing to remember is that you need to be prepared. Have your answers ready. Whether you spent a period of time travelling abroad or had to devote time to looking after a sick relative, make sure that you can explain your ‘time away’ succinctly and that you can convey in a positive manner how you continued to develop your skills – whether they be work related skills or practical life skills.
Sometimes…note the word sometimes…it is possible to minimise the impact of a gap on a CV simply through the format of CV that you choose. Admittedly with a standard CV where you outline everything you have done in a chronological manner, this is not the case. However, if you were to create a CV which had a more functional format, where you concentrate more on your skills and experience, you could perhaps get away with a little more. That’s not to say of course that you would be glossing over any gaps or in any sense deceiving an employer, but rather that you’d be simply being a little more creative in how you sell yourself.
We hope that these tips on how to handle gaps on your CV will be of some use. Got any others that you’d like to share? Why not let us know via the comments section below?