How to explain career gaps in your CV

Emma Alkirwi gives some advice about how to present a career break on your CV.

CV tips

 

Returning to work can be scary after a long break and returners are often apprehensive about how to document their career gap in their CV. Whatever your reason for taking time out, it is important to acknowledge this and not just leave a gap.

Highlight relevant skills

I have set out below some tips showing how best to do this while also highlighting skills and experience that are likely to be relevant or valuable at interview stage:

State the gap

In the Career Summary section of your CV (before your most recent role) simply write the date your career gap started (month and year is fine) then put down the reason such as Carer/Period of ill health.

Explain

Provide a short explanation, such as who you were a carer to or that you were unwell and then write that you are actively seeking employment opportunities and are ready to return to work.

Volunteering

Remember to acknowledge any volunteering you may have done as you will have gained valuable skills. This could be a community group or assisting with a family business.

Hobbies

If you have interesting hobbies then note these down in your CV as this can make an excellent talking point at interview and also gives the reader an insight into your personality.

IT Skills

Make sure you document your IT Skills such as any programmes or software you have used as this demonstrates you have kept up to date with recent technology.

Show your expertise

Outlining your career gap and offering relevant information is important so you can give the recruiter a true insight into your expertise. Hopefully, you can outline additional skills or experience you have obtained during your break. However, in the event that you cannot highlight anything relevant, at least acknowledge the gap and make it clear you are committed to returning to work and ready to take on a new challenge.

Remember, just because you have taken a career gap this does not mean you are not capable or do not have the skills and experience relevant for the role. You will have a lot to offer whether from your previous work experience or if you have, for instance, been a carer.

New skills

Remember, you may have acquired or honed soft skills which are highly relevant during your break, for instance, organising family life, time management and so forth. These are all great qualities to offer an employer.

Attitudes are changing to career gaps and I suspect this will continue as workplaces become more modern, have the added benefit of new technology and flexible working arrangements or locations become more common.



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