23 April 2014
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Explaining career gaps

 

For various reasons many job seekers have taken time off from their careers. Whatever the reason trying to explain these career breaks to potential employers can be awkward.

If your career gap was a very long time ago, say more than 10 years then there is no need to worry. You also do not need to be concerned about very short career gaps i.e. those only lasting for a few months.

Employers are only really interested in your recent career history.
working couple on a career break holiday



Below are some of the reasons why some people may have gaps in their work careers:-

  • Extended holiday i.e. round the world trip.
  • Charity / voluntary work in the UK or abroad.
  • Temporary emigration to a different country.
  • Long term illness.
  • An accident.
  • Period of unemployment after being laid off.
  • Maternity leave, starting a family.
  • Education or training.
  • Starting a business venture.

You can either try to explain your employment gap in your CV or by briefly mentioning it in a covering letter. Always explain breaks in one or two sentences, there is no need to go into lengthy details or explanations. It is always easier to explain gaps in detail later in interview situations rather than in a initial CV application.

Some career gaps are much easier to explain that others and can even be used to your advantage. For instance if you took a year out to go traveling in South Asia for a year then this could be to your advantage if you applied for a diversity job working with ethnic minority communities in the UK. Another example is if you tried starting up your own business, you can then say that you now have experience of being your own boss. You could point out that you have newly gained budgeting, sales and cost control skills.

Always try to focus on positive points from your career gap, experiences you have gained or the new skills you have learnt.

Never try to leave a empty unexplained gap in your CV, as employers will take that as a bad sign, always give a brief reason for it.

Functional CV layout
If you have a large career gap for instance more than one year then you may want to consider using a functional CV format rather than a chronological CV layout. A Functional CV will focus more on your skills and work experience rather than your job titles and periods of employment. Meaning you will not have to list employment dates.

Interviews
You will almost certainly be asked about it in any subsequent interview you have with a prospective employer. Make sure your give the same explanation for your career break as you listed in your CV. If you have been invited to a interview then take this as a positive sign as it means that even with your employment gap the recruiter is still interested in you. During the interview always focus on and try to get across that you are excited and eager to get back into work.


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