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Dealing with gaps in your CV, especially if they are for potentially negative reasons, can be problematics. But deal with them you must as recruiting managers may make their own assumptions about your suitability for the advertised position and may completely reject your application if you do not provide adequate explanations to account for any gaps in your job history.
Don’t hide the gaps
It is important that you are honest and do not attempt to hide any gaps in your CV, even if you are concerned that this will cause a negative impression. Hiding any gap by extending the length of time held in a previous position will be easily spotted by potential employers when they seek references in support of your application. This kind of subterfuge will seriously damage your credibility and will harm your prospects of securing a job.
Don’t lie on your CV
Employers will check the details of your employment history and any untruths will come back to haunt you. It is best practice to try to make each reason for a gap in employment sound as positive as you can and provide details of any skills, qualifications or experience that you acquired along the way.
Change the focus
Short gaps of perhaps a few weeks or months can easily be disguised on your CV. Throughout the employment section, just put the years of employment rather than the months and these gaps will disappear by themselves. But recruiters are sharp eyed so be prepared to answer questions on this if you adopt this technique.
Time off travelling
Taking time out to see the world can be a positive asset on your cv but you need to show why it was positive. Employers are not interested in drop outs and time wasters. They are interested in transferable skills you may have acquired, in people who are not afraid to take responsibility for themselves, and who have gained valuable experience in meeting people from different cultures. Paula Gray, STV’s Human Resources manager, says: “Time out on a gap year can show that you are not afraid to experience new things. If you have actually worked abroad, even in a voluntary capacity, this can be a great way of bringing fresh insights to the workplace.”
Unemployment is one of the most common reasons for gaps in a CV and it can be hard to convince potential employers that you were not idle during this time. Here, the trick is to focus on any voluntary work, training or skills that you acquired during this time. But happens to the best of us so at the very least you should state that you were proactive in your job hunt during this gap in your employment history.
Accidents and illness
Potential employers understand that people get sick and that there are legitimate reasons why accidents and illness could cause gaps in your career history. If you have had career breaks because of prolonged illness it is important that you make clear that you reassure potential employers that you have made a complete recovery and are now able to make a full return to the workplace.
Both maternity and paternity are common reasons why there might be gaps in your employment history, so it is perfectly acceptable to include this in your CV. If it is recent, you may want to state in your covering letter that you are now ready to return to the workplace.
Any gaps caused by taking training or further study can be readily explained in your CV and few employers will see view this in a negative light. Try to ensure that your CV clearly shows the link between time taken for study and any qualifications or experience gained.
Use your cover letter to your advantage
You can always use the cover letter of your job submission to provide a suitable explanation for any gaps in you work history. This will allow you to account for any time away from the workplace and ensure that you can highlight the positive experiences and skills which were gained during this time.