It’s everybody’s worst nightmare when they are asked the question: Why is there a gap on your CV? I have spoken to many people who are going for interviews and absolutely dread being asked about periods of time when they weren’t in work.
However people may have a gap on their CV for a variety of reasons. This can be due to travelling, poor health, family reasons or perhaps you were made redundant. Admittedly there can be a tendency amongst some employers to overlook candidates that have noticeable periods of time without work.
Personally, I am always more interested in the abilities and characteristics of an individual – if they haven’t been in work for a while but have the quality my company needs, I will hire them.
However as a candidate you do need to be prepared to answer questions on any gaps in your CV. It is essential to be honest and up front. Trying to lie or bluff your way through isn’t the way to do things and to be perfectly honest, most good hiring managers will see straight through you. Explain whatever circumstances there were – in the video below I discuss one of the answers I was given to this question. Although it caught me off guard a little, it was clearly an honest one.
I have spoken before about the need to do your research going into an interview, and this is especially important if you have been unemployed for a while. By showing off your knowledge of both the company and the industry, you are essentially telling the interviewer that you are still up to date with what is happening. As somebody who has interviewed thousands of people over the years, I can tell you that a candidate who knows the latest news and trends in their industry gets a big tick next to their name.
If you are struggling to get through to the interview stage because of the gaps on your CV, think outside of the box. A short period of voluntary work always looks good and it will give you something recent to put on there. Consider taking relevant courses as well – this shows you are an ambitious individual who is always looking to improve their skill set.
Explain the skills you did pick up while you have been out of employment. Many people think that offices and classrooms are the only place where you learn things but this simply isn’t true. For example if you have spent time away looking after your children, focus on the strengths you needed such as discipline, organisation and the ability to multi-task. If you have travelled, you may have picked up international knowledge which would be useful for a business looking to increase their global presence.
You may have decided to change careers and sometimes people try and airbrush what they have done in another industry. But every sector has transferable skills – what you need to is explain exactly what yours are and how they will help in the job you are applying for.
All the signs in the recruitment industry are currently pointing to an increase in talent attraction. The opportunities for candidates are now there, but it also means they need to work a lot harder to stand out. Being out of work for a while may seem like a hindrance to some people, but if you are positive, proactive and willing to put the effort in, this shouldn’t be the case.