5 top tips on how to explain gaps in your CV

Published on: 18 Jun 2014

Ignoring gaps in your career on your CV in the hope that employers won’t notice them will be your first downfall when it comes to getting that dream job. For many hiring managers, a CV that’s full of unexplained breaks is a warning sign which may lead them to disregard your application straight away.

If you lie or try to cover gaps by extending the months you worked somewhere there is a high chance you’ll be found out at the reference check stage - even if you have nothing to hide employers will be suspicious and put off. Honesty is essential to the hiring process.

Gaps in your employment due to illness

It is probably not worth mentioning illness-related employment gaps if they occurred over 10 years ago however if you recently took a long career break due to illness you will have to acknowledge and explain this to some extent in your CV. The message you should be conveying to employers is that although you did take some time out of your career due to illness, you are now ready to return to work.

Gaps in your employment due to redundancy or termination

You are not likely to be penalised for taking some time out of your career following redundancy or a firing (although you may have some explaining to do if it’s the latter) but what you do need to highlight is what you did during this time to stay marketable. For example did you do any volunteer work? Or complete any additional training to improve your employability? These are two examples of the things you could be doing in your time off to show you have initiative.

Gaps in your employment due to travelling

Employers may well appreciate the fact you’ve been travelling before applying for a role at their company as it shows, for some, that you’ve ‘got it our system’ and for others that you have a sense of independence and cultural awareness, traits that may contribute to the employer’s perception of you as a worthwhile candidate.

Gaps in your employment due to family care

Taking time out of your career to take care of a relative or raise your children is not uncommon therefore don’t feel like you have to try and cover this up on your CV. However, it is probably worth mentioning that your children are now in full time education/child care making it clear you no longer have care commitments and are ready to return to your career.

There is a high possibility that you will be asked about gaps in your career if you reach the interview stage therefore it is always best to explain employment gaps in your covering letter to avoid any awkward questions that may arise later on. Enquiries may still be made about these gaps but only if the hiring manager needs more information. 

Get more CV advice with Michael Page Digital and take a look at our articles on how not to write your CV and what employers and recruiters look for in a CV.