Firstly, it’s important to remember that almost everyone will, at some time or other, have a gap in their employment and this will not necessarily be a cause for a would-be employer to reject your application.
As tempting as it may be to try and manipulate your CV to minimise a break in your employment by stretching your start and finish dates for example – or have it disappear altogether – this will unlikely do you any favours. Hiring managers are very skilled at spotting anything which doesn’t quite add up and you run the risk of tripping yourself up should you be questioned in more detail about your time at a particular organisation.
At the same time, not providing a reasonable explanation for any gaps on your CV can make a potential employer uncomfortable if they are left to join the dots or come to their own conclusions about your absence from work. Addressing any gaps with clarity in an open and honest way is best and will demonstrate a professional approach to anyone reading your CV.
There are many reasons why you may have a gap between roles and depending on how far back they feature in your career and how personal the reasons are could influence how much detail is appropriate to share at this stage.
For example if you were made redundant from a position – and in the current climate there could potentially be far more applicants in a similar situation than previously before – then demonstrate how you have used the time productively to either improve your skills, undertake additional training or utilise your experience in a voluntary capacity.
Many people will experience a career gap if they have had time off for maternity or paternity leave, to raise a family or to care for a family member. Relatively little explanation will be needed other than to simply outline the time period or periods that this relates to.
A common reason for a career break is a gap year or time spent travelling and this is a relatively easy one to put a positive spin upon. Unless you have multiple breaks after relatively short periods of employment, many managers will see this in positive light – particularly if you are able highlight how these opportunities and experiences can be of benefit to you in the workplace. It also demonstrates that you have independence, organisation skills and resourcefulness - qualities that employers are likely to appreciate and value in their team.
There are some situations which are a little more sensitive and you will want to think carefully about in terms of how you approach these; if for example if your employment was terminated or a long-term illness prevented you from working for a significant period of time. In the case of the former, whilst you may need to explain the circumstances further during an interview, you should, similar to how you would a redundancy, outline how you utilised the time positively. With an illness, you may not feel comfortable about sharing too much detail at an early stage in the application process however you should explain how you are ready to get back into work, particularly if you are looking to return after a relatively recent break.
Sharp Consultancy specialises in the recruitment of temporary, interim and permanent finance and accountancy professionals. With offices in Leeds and Sheffield our highly experienced team of consultants recruit for positions throughout Yorkshire and beyond. CONTACT US today for expert advice on your next career move.