Having gaps in your CV is not unusual, particularly in the current climate. Many people have fallen victim to redundancy and are struggling to find a job. Others who have spent time working in the home are being forced to seek employment to make up the shortfall in family finances brought about by higher taxes, levies and reduced salaries for their partners.
Regardless of why you have gaps in your CV, finding some way of minimising them and distracting the reader is important.
The first thing you should be aware of is that employers don’t necessarily avoid hiring someone because they have gaps but unexplained gaps do raise warning bells and would leave any employer wondering what they might be letting themselves in for!
So here are some does and don’ts to help you address the issue:
- Lie outright – telling lies on your CV is never a good idea, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t fudge the truth a little or put a positive spin on something
- Make it impossible for the company to hire you by telling them something that will be an absolute no-no
- Apologise – give a brief explanation for the gap where necessary and nothing more, you should always project a positive image
- Just leave big gaps – I can tell you from experience that it raises to many questions and concerns (around issues like instability, criminality, laziness etc)
- Use formatting such as bold, italics to highlight dates
- Assess how serious the gaps are
- Where possible massage the timeframe by using years rather than months (e.g. giving employment dates as 2001-2010 rather than Jun 2001 – Mar 2010)
- Be clear about what you were doing during the gap
- Focus on what you gained from the time and how it might benefit the company (e.g. skills learned, experience of diversity etc)
- Use a Profile Summary, Key Skills and perhaps even Key Achievements on page 1 to draw the reader’s attention to what you have to offer before they get to the dates (Page 1 – and generally the first 2/3 of the page are most important in a CV so make sure this presents the most positive information)
- Use headings such as Most Relevant Work Experience to allow you to highlight those roles that are most relevant – this way you can omit some jobs altogether particularly those 15+ years ago
- Other Experience – use this heading to draw out other relevant information such as volunteering, unpaid work etc on your CV
- Use your Cover Letter to explain anything that is difficult to cover in your CV – e.g. time off to look after a sick parent
- Keep busy with things that will be useful to your CV – try to learn new skills, stay up to date with your profession, network, volunteer etc as this will help you to minimise the gaps and will give you something extra to offer the employer
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