How To Explain Gaps In Your CV

When preparing your CV for a new job role, you’ve probably tailored it to make your experience match the role and show why you’re the best candidate for the job. And whilst showing all the experience you have is a great way to make you stand out to potential recruiters and hiring managers, what about the experience you don’t have? 

There are plenty of reasons why there may be gaps in your employment including your job was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, or perhaps you took some time away from your day job to go travelling. No matter what the reason is, understanding how to address these gaps on your CV can be difficult, and not doing so could mean missing out on landing the perfect job role. 

In this post, we give you some tips and tricks on how to explain any gaps of 3 months or more in your CV. 

What is a career gap?

A career gap is any amount of time over 3 months spent out of work or between job roles. It could have been influenced by a personal decision such as starting a family or could be a result of outside factors such as the covid-19 pandemic. 

There are plenty of reasons why there may be gaps in your employment, and our number one tip is to be open and honest about it. 

Tips to explain gaps in your CV

Be honest

First thing’s first, whatever your reason for taking a career break be honest about it. You don’t have to tell the recruiter every little detail (as some situations may be difficult to talk about) but if you leave it out completely or lie about the reasons for your career gap it will only make the situation worse. Having a gap on your CV won’t affect your chances of being hired but lying about it will so be honest.

Edit your CV

If you’ve been in your career for many years and have held several positions, there’s nothing wrong with editing your CV to make it relevant for your career history and the job role you’re applying for. Often, this type of editing can help to mask some of the career gaps you may have (for example periods of gardening leave).

If you do have a substantial gap in your career history, you don’t necessarily have to address them in your CV, your cover letter can be a great way to explain any significant gaps upfront rather than them cropping up on your CV.  

Be positive

While you may think of gaps in your career as a hindrance, they aren’t. Rather than being embarrassed about your career gaps, put a positive spin on them. 

Changing your wording from ‘I went travelling because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do’ to ‘I took a year break after university to experience new cultures. This was highly beneficial as it allowed me to gain a new perspective on the world and gain valuable life lessons. I am now ready to focus on my career’ can make your career gap look intentional.    

If a career gap was unexpected, for example, you were made redundant due to the pandemic, showing positivity and optimism can be extremely beneficial. 

Focus on skills

If you used your time off to learn new skills, take a course, or pursue voluntary work then show this to the recruiter. It will demonstrate to them that you not only used your career break to recharge but that you also used your time effectively. This will help to make your CV stand out from the competition. 

Be prepared

Whatever your reasons for taking a career break, remember that’s it’s nothing to worry about. A month or two out of a job is often fine and employers won’t challenge you on it, however, a career break over a year or more will need to be addressed so it’s important you can back this up with your reasonings, so you’re not caught off-guard. 

Final thoughts

If you look at a stack of CV’s you will find that most people have some gaps, it’s perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. The important thing to remember is that when you do have a significant gap in your CV of 3 months or more, is to be upfront and honest with your prospective employer. You don’t need to go over every small detail, but you do need to be fully prepared to explain why you took time out of your career and what you learnt and/or why you’re ready to take on the next challenge.