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How To: Address Gaps in Employment

How To: Address Gaps in Employment
11 November 2020
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

At one stage or another, you may find yourself in a situation where you are not working. There are many reasons for gaps in your CV. It could be a voluntary step away from the workforce or perhaps you lost your job. Whatever the reason may be, you may have to explain it to potential employers. It’s not an easy thing to do per se, and failing to do it well could actually cost you a job.

Firstly, if you’ve been in employment for a number of years, there is no need to list every position you’ve held. It’s perfectly acceptable to scale the detail back a little. This is a good way to conceal a few gaps in your CV. 

When listing the dates of your previous employment, you can omit the month of some and only show the year. This will keep gaps to a minimum on your CV. You can do the same for your reasons for leaving previous positions. This way you will be able to keep your CV on track and concise. 

If you have a significant gap in employment, there are better places to address it then in the middle of your CV. For example, you could use your cover letter to explain a gap in your CV. Use it to highlight how the position you are going for is perfect to get you back into the workforce. 

Like any information on your CV, honesty is the most important policy. This is no different for employment gaps. Unfortunately, this means that leaving it out completely is not an option. Also, embellishing the details will not stand to you either. This being said, sometimes discretion with gaps is best. You don’t need to go into every detail of it, but it does need to be added. 

Similarly, if you try to extend dates in previous roles to hide gaps, you could easily be called out on it. All it would take would be a call to a previous employer to verify your time there. 

If a gap in your employment history is out of your hands, like due to restrictions as a result of COVID-19, for example, be proactive with your time. Take the opportunity to start an online course, seek professional mentoring or even volunteer.

If it’s not possible to take up something like this, try to demonstrate how you have used your own talents. For example, start a blog. Having any of these on your CV or in your cover letter during an employment gap will stand to you and set you apart from others. 

Positivity is key for employment gaps. Don’t apologise for them. Instead of focusing on the fact you couldn’t find a job or you wanted to re-focus your career path, change your phrasing slightly to make it seem optimistic. Using experiences like this as a learning curve is essential. Show them that you have evolved as a person from these experiences.

Finally, being prepared for the inevitable questions on this topic is essential if you manage to score an interview. Make sure that you won’t be caught off guard by having your answer ready in advance. 

When preparing for the interview, research the company and prove that although you may have been unemployed for a while, you can still keep up with the working world. 

Once you've handled gaps in employment, tackle the issue of hobbies and interests. Check out our handy guide here!

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