One of the most common barriers to finding work that our Work Programme customers are facing is gap in employment, which can range from a couple of years to ten and over. Reasons for these gaps vary from person to person and our dedicated Job Coaches work alongside customers to find the best way to approach the gap in CVs and when asked in interviews.
Reed, the UK's number one job site, shares five tips to keep in mind when explaining the gap in your employment history:
Firstly, it isn’t necessary to include all of your experience in your CV. If you’ve been in employment for years, and held a number of different positions, it’s to be expected that you’ll scale down the detail, and this could potentially take care of the issue.
Similarly, when stating the dates of your employment on your CV, omitting the month and only showing the year is perfectly acceptable. The same goes for your reasons for leaving your previous positions. This keeps your CV to the point, and keeps gaps to a minimum.
Also, if you do have a significant gap in your employment history, there may be better places to address them than in the middle of your CV. Your cover letter, for example, can be used to elaborate on the gap, and to suggest why you view this position as the perfect way to get back into work. Always attempt to address the issue early, allowing the recruiter to concentrate on the rest of your CV.
Acknowledging and explaining a gap won’t harm your chances of employment. Lying about a gap will.
The single most important thing to remember when dealing with a gap in your CV is that, whatever your reason for taking a break from employment, honesty is (nearly) always the best policy. You don’t have to go into everything in detail (some situations may benefit from discretion), but leaving it out completely or lying about the reason will only make the gaps stand out further.
Additionally, never be tempted to extend your period of employment in a previous position, just to cover up the gaps. There is every chance that the interviewer will call your previous employers to verify your time there.
If you’re struggling to find work, and feel that gaps in your employment history are to blame, always try and be proactive. Focus on talking about your talents and ways you've used your skills to look for jobs, volunteering or helping friends and family with different tasks. Plus, the courses and workshops you undertake as part of our support service will show a real commitment to getting the skills you need to find a job so be sure to mention that in your interview or CV.
If taking a break wasn’t your decision, a bit of positivity can go a long way. Focus on what you learned from the experience and what steps you’ve taken to implement positive changes to your career to improve your overall performance.
One of the key things to remember is that, should your CV prove to be successful, you are likely to be offered an interview. And, during the interview, it’s almost inevitable that you will be asked about these gaps in some form. Prepare what you’re going to say in a short and pertinent response, and you won’t be caught off guard. You can always get your Job Coach to help you put this together and practice!
Don't forget to use pre-interview preparation to research the company and the industry as a whole. That way, you’ll prove to your interviewer that your absence has not affected your desire to pursue the role and ability to keep-up-to-date.
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