If you’ve got an employment gap on your CV, you’re far from alone. In fact, it’s incredibly common! Whilst many recruitment agencies in London will give you the impression that you need to be ashamed and cover this up, in our experience a different approach works better. Handling it appropriately means that it definitely won’t hinder your chances of being invited to an interview and, in some cases, it may even give you an edge over other candidates simply because you’re honest.
Here’s what you should do:
Take an honest but ‘no big deal’ approach
There’s a growing trend here in the UK to include an objective statement on the CV. This is a short section which basically spells out why you want the job. The problem with this American-style approach is that it’s falling flat in the British culture. At the end of the day, the employer doesn’t really care about what you want, and their approach to recruitment is solely shaped around what they want!
Whilst the trend over the pond is to bury the job gap in an objective statement of wants and desires, in the UK you’ll do better being honest, but also not actually making a big deal of things. If you’re applying directly, you can mention the gap briefly as we explain below, but don’t overcook it. If you’re using a recruitment agency, be honest with your consultant and follow their guidance.
The basic premise is not to hide the gap. Recruiting managers aren’t silly—they can work out dates and you’ll miss opportunities if they feel you’re trying to be deceptive.
Having accepted that you’ve got to be honest about the gap, the simplest thing to do is list it (as it would fit chronologically within your career experience). It doesn’t need much detail but should list the dates and a very brief summary of what you were doing during that time. For example, “September 2014–September 2016: Career break to raise a young family”. This way you’ve actively got something to show for the missing period.
However, always ensure that the rest of your experience section gets more attention. Ideally, you will have at least one bit of experience to list that’s more recent than your career gap.
If you’re crafting a CV for that new experience, then we recommend a new approach. If the career gap has been more than 6–12 months, then consider doing some temporary jobs just to boost your recent experience. These roles are relatively easy to secure, and are fantastic for boosting your CV.
We repeat: don’t make a big deal of it
You may feel paranoid about your career gap, but the recruiter won’t think it’s a big deal unless you make them think it’s a big deal. Don’t labour the point in your cover letter, in fact, leave it out of your cover letter altogether. Never hide it, but don’t labour the point.
The only time it’s worth giving it a little more attention is if you actually gained relevant and useful experience from it. For example, your experience may have aligned you with the service offered by the company you’re applying for, giving connection and showing a potential commitment to their goals and values.
If you handle it well, an employment gap won’t harm your future prospects. If you’re still concerned, chat to one of our recruitment consultants who can help you out. Call on 020 7870 7177.
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