Keeping your fingers crossed in the hope that employers will not notice the gaps in your CV is not the right strategy. If there are gaps in your CV that aren’t explained then employers will often assume the worst as detailed in the cartoon here! Instead, you need to explain CV gaps in a way that allows you to focus on the positive things that you’ve learned during the gap and how it has perhaps enhanced your personality or professional profile. It is better to explain gaps in a cover letter, and ideally in your CV itself, especially if the gap is for educational purposes or travel. Don’t give employers a reason to discard your CV as most gaps are explainable and if communicated correctly could potentially enhance your application.
Mention only recent illness. However, employers may wonder if you could be ill again so assure them in your CV that you are well recovered, job ready and looking forward to work related challenges.
If you have been redundant explain what you did in the interim to add to your skills. Did you add to your educational qualifications, or undertake training or do volunteer work? If your services were terminated, then stick to the truth without showing the company or yourself in bad light. Explaining a gap may not harm your employability chances but lying or extending the employment dates to avoid gaps could.
Everyone, at some point, needs to take time off to care for parents, children, recover from accidents or simply because there is going to be an addition to the family. If you have applied for the job, then you know that it means that these reasons no longer exist; however, employers, regrettably, may assume differently. Employers aren’t allowed to ask questions about your family, children or marital status, but it could work in your favour to take pre-emptive action and detail on your CV that you have made the adequate day care and other arrangements for your children, etc. so they know that you are fully committed to rejoining the workforce.
These can be explained more easily in the CV by detailing specifically where you travelled to and the objectives behind your travels. You could emphasise how the new gained perspectives could be beneficial to the role that you are applying to. Furthermore, if there was a bit of adventure travel, you could mention why it was important for you and the lessons learned from overcoming various challenges.
This is the toughest of the lot. Most employers will think the worst if your unemployment gap is more than a year. However, if during that time you did something to qualify you better, like being a full-time student, doing volunteer or freelance work, or you built a website or blog, did consultation work or were a full-time parent or needed time to manage/refurbish the home, then you can explain the gap with positive reasons.
Be prepared to explain rather than hide the gaps. Have references readily available from your previous manager and colleagues. Take time to upgrade your knowledge about companies or your area of work so that the interviewer understands you have kept up with your profession despite the gap.
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