How to explain gaps in employment

Are you worried that a hiring manager might see your CV and think you’re trying to ignore holes in your career? It’s not unusual to have breaks, but if you’re wondering how to explain gaps in employment, don’t panic, you have plenty of options.

Ignoring the gaps during the application process will only mean the hiring manager will raise the issue during the interview, so it’s best to get it out of the way and avoid suspicion.

What were you doing during your gap in employment?

1. Volunteering

If you can say you were using your time productively during a gap in employment, there is little reason for a hiring manager to be suspicious. Volunteering or taking up some part-time work means you’ve actively worked and have probably expanded your skill set, while gaining extra experience.

2. Travelling

Many employers actually see this as an advantage because it shows you have gained some understanding of other cultures and independence. You can also emphasise how taking a gap year or career break to travel has made you more focused on your career path now, in a sense you’ve ‘got it out of your system’.

3. Caring for family

Many people leave full-time employment to care for a family member, whether it be children or an elderly or sick relative. What you need to make clear in this case is that you’re no longer required to care for the person and are ready to get back to your career.

4. Looking for a new position

If you have a gap in employment because you left a job you didn’t enjoy, did you use the time to complete any additional training or qualifications? Job searching can be a full-time occupation in itself, but if there was a big gap between jobs, ensure you point out what you were doing to make yourself more employable.

Whatever the reason for the end of one job, whether you were made redundant, terminated or left by choice, reiterating the positive steps you took while you were unemployed is what matters.

You can always change the format of your CV, so it’s skills based rather than chronological. This means putting your most relevant roles first, rather than your most recent. If the gaps are relatively small you probably won’t need to mention anything, it’s normal for some transition time between jobs.

If you’re looking for a new position, contact your local Michael Page office to find out how we can help.