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How to explain a gap in your CV

July 22, 2022

There are a variety of reasons why somebody may have a gap in their CV. Perhaps you’ve spent some time away from the workplace to raise a family, or you may have been studying, travelling, medical reasons, or just looking for the right role. Of course a large reason since the pandemic that began in 2020 is unfortunately redundancy.

First, please note that gaps are normal and becoming more and more common. We are typically expected to work an average of 40+ years so you can be forgiven for taking a break.

It’s all about how you structure it in your  CV to explain how the breaks have benefited you and will make you a more desirable candidate. First, start by giving an overall explanation of why you were unemployed in this time period. Secondly, go on to explain how you used this time and what you did. Third, put an emphasis on why you think that this is the right opportunity for you.

It is important for employers and recruitment agencies to see that you’ve utalised this time during your career break, and done something productive and proactive. Focus on what skills you have learned from your experiences during the gap, and how they may be transferable to the role that you are applying for. Be honest about how you used the time in your gap, however you don’t need to go into an incredible amount of detail unless it’s beneficial or relevant to the role e.g. studying.

Make sure that you use positive and encouraging language whilst speaking about your career break, so the potential employer will know you’ve grown from this time outside of the workplace. Here are some common examples for workplace gaps in your CV:

1) Becoming a Parent

Please see our full blog post here on How to Write a CV when you’ve been a Full Time Parent: http://thedentalschool.org/how-to-write-a-cv-when-youve-been-a-full-time-parent/

“Having kids – the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings – is the biggest job anyone can embark on.” – Maria Shriver

Being a parent and taking time off to raise your children is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the world. Know that you have gained an incredible amount of skills during this time period which may be beneficial for your new employer. As explained in the blog post linked above, I feel like that this experience should be written in the format of any other job. You can always also add in a short paragraph about this into your personal profile. See the blog post for more information.

2) Taking Time Off Due to Illness

You do not need to provide specific details of the illness to any potential employers if you do not feel comfortable to do so. If it has no bearing on your ability to competently do the job you’re applying for then it doesn’t matter what illness it is you have had or do suffer with.

Mention that you have had to take time off due to illness and explain how you’ve used your time. Have you learnt any new skills? For example baking, cooking, gardening, artwork, music. Or perhaps you kept up to date with current affairs, industry news and trends. Have you taken any time to care for others or volunteered within your community?

Remember to demonstrate that you are ready to return to work and why you think you’d be a great fit for this role focusing on your key skills and attributes.

3) Caring for a Relative

Similar to the above, unless it’s relevant to the role you’re applying for, it is not necessary to go into elaborate detail of the specific illness or caring responsibilities. You need to make it clear to the employer that moving forward, you are ready to re-enter the workforce and that the relative is being cared for so this situation is not going to be a recurrence in the future. This is because employers are looking for longevity in their employees and want to consider all potential obstacles in the hiring process. Of course, nobody can predict the future and situations do change but it will give some reassurance to any potential employer.

As always, bring the focus back to your skills and what you can offer and bring to the table.

4) Being made Redundant

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s the strength and resilience of people and their ability to bounce back and make the most of the situation. Unfortunately being made redundant was a huge part of the knock-on effect and many industries and companies suffered.

You should briefly explain why your previous role was made redundant, e.g. budget cuts, pandemic or company restructuring. The employer/recruiter will understand that this decision was out of your control and try to write it in a positive light and show your achievements during your time at the company.

Try to explain how you’ve spent your time since being made redundant up until now and why you’d be the best candidate for this job.

5) Travelling

Choosing to take a gap in employment to go travelling is a privilege not many get to experience. It most commonly comes in the form of a ‘gap year’ after finishing school, before embarking on university studies, or returning to the work force the following year. It’s often used to learn about the world and yourself, but I think travelling offers this no matter what your age is. Focus on writing about your reasoning behind why you decided to go travelling. Did you want to increase your cultural awareness and experiences? Did you immerse yourself into a community abroad? Did you pick up any new skills along the way? Were there any moments that prepared you for this role whilst on your travels? And note what excites you about the role that you are applying for and of course, what skills you can offer them as an employer.

6) Looking for a Job

Sometimes the gap in your CV is simply that you’ve been looking for a new job. In this case, you want to draw attention towards why you’ve applied for this specific job. You’ve been holding out to find the right role for yourself, not just ‘the next role’ and have used the time in between to keep up to date with the industry news and trend. List the X,Y,Z reasons on how you can benefit the company by stepping into this role. You can also use this space on your CV to list a few points that the company can offer you to show that you’ve done your research beyond just reading the job description and advertisement.

7) Studying

Going back to education, or taking time to train in a new field or expanding your training and knowledge is always a wonderful way to build your skill base. Make sure you state the course, training provider/institution, grade received and time taken to complete the course. You can then explain an overview of what the course is about, what you’ve learned from it, and what skills you’ve gained. Finally, you can make those skills relevant by extracting the transferable skills and how you could apply them to the role you’re applying for.

Remember, any job is a large investment of your time, effort and energy. Whilst the employers are looking for the right fit for their team, you’ve also got to assess if this is where you see yourself for the foreseeable future and will look forward to on a daily basis.

If you are interested in finding a career and not just your next job, then please get in touch with us. We offer flexible online courses in the Dental Industry. Dental Nursing is an exciting and rewarding career where there is always room to grow and progress.

Become a fully qualified Dental Nurse with no prior experience where you can earn and learn at the same time. Find out more here: http://thedentalschool.org/dental-nurse-diploma/