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Are you wondering what a career gap is? It refers to a period of time when you are not employed or you are between roles. These gaps can be voluntary or due to circumstances beyond your control. *1 It's crucial to remember that having an employment gap is not a deal-breaker; you simply need to know how to explain it.
It’s normal to take some time away from your career, there are plenty of explanations, maybe you were looking after family members or young children, pursued higher education, were made redundant or spent time exploring the world.
Regardless of the reason, navigating these empty spaces on your CV can be a challenging task. Failing to address them properly could potentially result in missing out on your ideal role, however, explaining them in the right way could help you to secure your dream job.
Here are a few of our top suggestions to help you ace your interview and land the job.
Keep it simple:
To start, it's important to remember that not all of your experience needs to be included in your CV - only relevant experience is necessary. If you have had various positions during your career, it's perfectly acceptable to condense the details, which can help address some gaps.
It's also completely acceptable to remove the months from employment dates in favour of just the years. The same logic can be used to explain why you left your previous job.
This will help to streamline your CV and minimise any gaps.
This is especially relevant if your employment gap was the result of the pandemic. Hiring managers know how many people faced extremely difficult circumstances, so you can briefly describe your situation and what might have changed during that time. *2
However, there are plenty of other reasons behind taking time away from work. Perhaps you had some physical health issues that stopped you from working, or maybe you needed to focus on your mental wellbeing. For someone dealing with mental health issues, it can be an incredibly tough time and it is in their best interest to take a break from the working environment. A lot of the time the decision to take time off isn’t a voluntary decision but instead a necessary one.
Tackling a career gap when it is due to physical or mental health reasons can be quite daunting, however it’s best to focus on any positives that you gained from your time out of work and any skills that you may have picked up along the way. If you took time out for your mental health, focus on the mindset techniques you learnt and how that can be transferred into the workplace.
While your employment gap is present on your CV and may require addressing, there's no need to focus on it extensively. Briefly provide an explanation, emphasize the positive results of your choice, and outline your readiness to resume your career journey. Try to keep your explanation to the point and without oversharing or delving into any other justifications. *3
Focus on what was gained:
Think positively; what knowledge did you gain from your time off from work? Was there any travel or volunteer work that gave you an alternative perspective you might share with the hiring committee? Use this part of the interview to show them how you grow through unforeseen circumstances. *2
It's crucial to have confidence in yourself and your explanation for any employment gaps. Demonstrating uncertainty could potentially lead the hiring manager feeling unsure about your explanation.
Moreover, avoid underestimating the significance of your activities during the gap. Whether you were caring for an ill family member, raising two children, or pursuing a master's degree, each of these carries a substantial weight.
Ready to combat the career gap?
Sometimes, regardless of your efforts, some employers won’t like the fact that you have a gap in your employment. However, that's perfectly fine - you might even feel that the company you're being interviewed for doesn't align with your values or you realise it isn't quite the job you were looking for.
It’s important to remember that we’re all human and there's more to life than working nonstop. Don’t be disheartened if a company shows disinterest or remains unresponsive, these are the same companies that you may want to avoid working for in the first place. *4
Finally, don’t let your career gap define who you are or what you can bring to a company because, more often than not, the length of your employment gap is much shorter than the amount of experience you actually have.