Gaps In Your CV? Here’s How to Explain Them

Whenever an interviewer sees a gap in your CV, they also see a red flag and you will need to get ready to answer some questions. Depending on the reason for the gap, it can feel like a sticky situation, but it doesn’t have to be the major elephant in the room. Here’s how to explain the gaps in your CV and quell a potential employer’s fears:

Be open about what you did during the gap

Despite the alarm bells that might go off in an interviewer’s head, not all gaps in a CV are bad. Not by a long shot. If you spent a year volunteering, travelling or took time out to study, this is certainly all good fodder for your application. If you’ve been volunteering, list this in your work experience section of your CV, rather than in a separate section.

Note that redundancy is a valid excuse, not a black mark against you. Soothe the interviewer’s fears by explaining the situation at the company that led to the layoff. A dismissal, which is different to a redundancy, is more problematic, but you can turn this into a positive by outlining any steps you’ve taken to improve your performance so that the same situation doesn’t occur again.

Use a summary statement in your CV

A summary statement in your CV is a good opportunity to cover any gaps in your CV. You don’t have to go into the ins and outs of why the gap has occurred, but merely take the reader through your overall story. In just 100 words, you can tell them about how you managed to reach the stage you’re at in your career, some of the skills and knowledge you’ve built along the way and your career aspirations for the future.

Explain the gap in your covering letter

Your covering letter is an excellent opportunity to clear up any doubts. You can outline in a little more detail what happened during the gap and then explain why you think the job would be a good opportunity to get back into work. Explaining the gap is also a useful pre-emptive strike because the person reading the covering letter will then anticipate the gap in your CV, making the gap itself seem something less of a red flag.

Focus on your strengths

It’s easy to get hung up on the gaps, but try to avoid it. Instead, focus on your strengths and compile your CV in such a way that all the benefits you could bring to a new role stand out. Highlight any positive results you’ve achieved in previous roles and any major skills that make you an asset. Potential employers may choose to overlook the gaps if you bring a lot of other good qualities to the table.

Gaps in a CV aren’t ideal, but it doesn’t mean your application is over just because you have them. It’s all about how you present them and yourself to the employer. Convey the gap and yourself in a positive manner and those red flags will soon disappear from a potential employer’s vision.

By Peter Jenkins