Gaps in your CV? 5 top tips to explain why

Published: 18 Jun 2014

When applying for a job be sure not to ignore gaps in employment on your CV. You may think that employers won’t notice but for many hiring managers a CV that’s full of unexplained gaps is a serious warning sign that may lead them to disregard your application straight away. 

Being honest is essential to the hiring process and lying or trying to cover gaps by extending the months you worked somewhere will be found out at the reference check stage so don’t risk it! Even if you have nothing to hide employers will be suspicious and put off.

Were you ill?

You will have to explain any recent career breaks due to illness (‘recent’ being within the last 10 years – any later is probably not worth mentioning) with the message being that even though you did take time out of your career due to illness, you are ready to return to work as soon as possible.

Were you fired or made redundant from your last job?

Employers are not likely to penalise you for taking time off between jobs after being fired or made redundant as long as you demonstrate what you did during this time to stay marketable (you may have some further explaining to do if it's the former). Did you do any volunteer work? Did you complete any additional training? These are two examples of the things you could be doing in your time off to show you have initiative.  

Did you take time off work to go travelling?

Taking time off work to go travelling is not necessarily be a bad thing and is easy to put a positive spin on. Many employers may actually appreciate that you’ve travelled before applying to work for their organisation. For some it may mean you’ve ‘got it out your system’ and for others it may show you have a sense of independence, natural curiosity and cultural awareness.

Did you take time off work to care for your family?

This is a common occurrence in the work place so there is no need to try and cover it up. However, it would be worth mentioning that your children are now in full time education/childcare, letting employers know that you no longer have care duties and are ready to return to your career.

Please note, there is a high chance that you will be asked about gaps in your career during any interviews you may get therefore it is heavily advised to explain employment gaps in your covering letter to avoid any awkward questioning that may arise later on. Enquiries may still be made about these gaps but only if the hiring manager needs more information. 

Get more CV advice with Michael Page Digital and take a look at our articles on how not to write your CV and what employers and recruiters look for in a CV.

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