Some of you may have experienced this, it is not out of the ordinary to find when going through our CV and finding periods of gaps within your career.
But there seems to be somewhat of a stigma with this or “looked upon” for having gaps between jobs but you may have had good reason for this, this can be due to redundancy, illness/injury, caring for a relative and so forth, but it is important to understand how to explain these gaps within your career to a new hiring company you are applying for.
As previously mentioned, it is not out of the ordinary with more and more people finding gaps in their CV its important to understand that people’s lives and the world is ever changing this can be put down to possible lack of jobs or personal reasons, we find ourselves facing more and more reasons to why this might be, but its not the end of the world!
So, let’s look at some ways you could go about discussing this and filling in your time for those gap periods.
Firstly, lets discuss ideas on how you could be managing your time in this period, understandably it’s easy to get ourselves into a rut after a period of time of not working, but its important to keep proactive with the time you have. You could take this time to potentially take up a course? if there is a career you ideally see yourself in it would be beneficial to look into a course to up those skills and get a qualification as this will show hiring managers that you are utilising your time in gaining skills and using your time wisely that will benefit your future positions.
You could also take the time to do voluntary work, this will showcase that you are being proactive and using your free time effectively whilst looking for a new role.
If you are finding that it is proving difficult to get a position in a course or volunteering role there are other ways to be productive in this time. For an example you could write a blog post show casing your talent and skills, hiring managers will admire this as it will show them that you are exhibiting your willingness to further your career.
Reasons for gaps
Let’s now discuss how to structure your reasons for having gaps in your CV.
There are many different reasons to why this may be, as discussed in the introduction from personal reasons to reasons beyond our control & it’s important to be clear in your examples, let’s look at some examples and how we should and shouldn’t answer them.
A good example of how to answer this would be
DO’s – “I took six months out to immerse myself in a different culture and feel I’ve not only gained a new perspective, but I’ve also learned some valuable life lessons. I’m now ready to start focussing on my career” – This shows you have taken the time to really think about your long terms goals in the future especially in your career, this states that you are ready to put all your focus in your career path and hiring managers will admire this.
DONT’s – “I spent six months travelling because I wasn’t ready to settle down. I don’t remember most of it” – This will show a hiring manager that you cannot commit to a long-term position, if you state you are not ready to settle down in your own life, how will this affect your work life?
For many this can be a delicate topic for discussion, however, there is a way of mentioning what you have been doing without giving too much personal information away. Examples can be as followed.
DO’s – ‘I’ve spent the last year caring for a sick relative. Their health has now recovered and I’m ready to re-enter the workplace’ – You have covered the basis of what you were doing without having to go into detail, you point out that this was the situation this is the update and now I am ready to focus on getting back into my career path, this is all hiring managers will want to know so you don’t have to go into to much detail but a simple overview will be ideal.
DONT’S – ‘I’ve had personal issues which I’d rather not discuss’ – Now the reason this can be a bad example of how to answer this is because it is extremely vague, this may give hiring managers alarm bells to what you have been doing and to why you do not want to give a quick insight to this time, as discussed above you don’t have to go into to much detail a simple overview will suffice but being too vague may cost you the role you are applying for.
We cannot help falling ill, it is human nature, however the way you answer this can give a hiring manager more insight to you as a person and how you have dealt with this situation in the past.
DO’s – “ Due to a recurring medical condition I felt unable to continue in my previous position. However, I’ve now returned to full health and feel ready to take on my next challenge’ – This is a great example of how to answer this question, this will show the hiring manager that you have acknowledged that your health was impacting your previous place of employment so now you have acted upon making sure that you are healthy and able to proceed forward in your career.
DONT’s – ‘I have a recurring health problem which has made it difficult for me to hold down a job’ – This could set alarm bells off, the reason this would be a bad example of answering this is that it somewhat displays that you could be unpredictable, as mentioned before we cannot help when we fall ill but at the same time its important for your employer to know you are reliable, if you mention that “it is difficult for me to hold down a job” isn’t reassuring for the hiring manager, the last thing they need is someone they cant see long term.
This is totally out of your control, this can be due to budget cuts which means this was a cause for you to be made redundant, but despite this action being out of our control, the way you explain it will determine you as a person.
DO’s – ‘My previous employer was forced to make a series of budget cuts. They had a ‘first-in, last-out’ policy and, unfortunately, as I was relatively new to the company, I was made redundant. However, I’m proud of what I achieved during my time there, something which can be reinforced by my previous manager, who is also one of my provided referees’.- This example will show your hiring manager your approach is optimistic, acknowledging the reasons of your previous company and having a positive approach to what you learnt in that time
DON’T’s – ‘My previous company had it in for me from day one’ This does not give a good impression from you as a person, it is understandable we might be somewhat bitter for us being made redundant, but this is not the opportunity to bad mouth a previous employer to a new one.
This is not a professional approach and could be viewed upon as having a victim mentality and could say a lot about you as a person.
Whatever the reason for your career break, its all relative, whether it is a few months out of a couple of years isn’t nothing to essentially worry about, however keep in mind if it has been years out of employment then its best to plan your explanations when asked.
As mentioned in the introduction of this article, it isn’t unusual to have gaps in your career, but this will stand out if you do not explain why. The overall thing employers are seeking is for you to demonstrate your passion, enthusiasm and readiness to re-enter the workplace.
Confidence and honesty is desirable for any interview, approaching this situation in the right nature will speak volumes about yourself, your personality and your determination.
So overall it is best to be honest, address the issues early which will allow the hiring manager to focus solely on rest of your CV and that way you will have nothing to worry about!