Here at Primo Associates, we encounter thousands of CV’s a month, soaring through the vast galaxy of the Internet and landing gracefully in our inboxes, either to be greeted with a grin, or deleted from cyber space. As a result, our expertise in identifying flaws, from bad grammar to unprofessional email addresses, is faultless. And since a CV is such a significant step in the job hunt, leading to an interview and potentially a shiny new job, it’s important to polish details to make for a good impression - and that includes gaps in your employment history. If you’re worried about how to explain a break your career and don’t want to risk deterring recruiters or possible employers, here are 5 steps to take when handling gaps in your CV.
Although discretion can often be beneficial when it comes to any sordid details of your past, your best option is always to be honest and up front about reasons for breaks in your employment. If you lie or attempt to avoid enquiries about these gaps, it’s likely that a recruiter or employer will have recognised this from the get-go, and not trust you, resulting in rejection and a stain in your job hunt reality that will be difficult to erase.
If you’ve taken time out to travel, or had no choice but to take time off due to something beyond your control, such as illness, providing evidence will help an employer understand your experience and possibly bring you in for an interview for further explanation. That said, anything more than a year’s gap won’t look good, signifying that you’re unreliable or not committed to your field.
Provide character references
Often when we’re faced with a CV that’s riddled with gaps, or confusing dates, we turn to character references to determine whether someone is eligible to be shortlisted, or worth considering for an interview. Character references are indispensible when addressing red flags such as employment gaps, and can be the difference between being dismissed and being successful in the next stage of the hiring process.
Make sure your CV is up to date
There’s nothing that conveys laziness and lack of care more than a CV that isn’t up to date. If your work history ends in 2011, with absolutely no explanation as to what you’ve done since then, your CV will be shunned. Including accurate dates down to the month if possible, as well as a current phone number and professional email address, will secure you a better chance of being taken seriously.
If you have adequate reasons for taking time off, portraying how you’ve made use of your time since your last employment is massively valuable. What have you done to rectify those gaps? Volunteering, taking workshops, courses or night classes and even blogging can aid in maintaining your skills and demonstrate that you’re not only hard working, but dedicated to your field.
It’s highly probable that if you have unexplained gaps in your CV, you’ll be asked about it, and this is something that you should be prepared for and willing to justify. Make you answer punchy and succinct so that you won’t be caught off guard or find yourself babbling. And remember, a positive outlook on previous mistakes, showing how you’ve learned from them or moved forward is an admirable way of tackling these difficult situations.
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