Bridging a Gap in Your CV

By David Smith

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In any CV there could be slightly tricky areas that range from a spell of employment this isn’t as relevant as it could be, which may be a few years back, all the way up to a job where things didn’t end well and you left ‘under a cloud’, and all sorts of shades in between, where you would rather talk about something other than these entries.

Of all the things you could have contained within your CV, possibly the last thing you want is a gap, certainly a significant gap between your last role and the present. Having said that…gaps do happen, so what do you do about it?

How do Gaps Occur?

The thing with gaps, and there are many reasons why they occur, the common denominator is that whatever creates these gaps are rarely within our control, which can be frustrating! Such as…?

Economy-related: It is true to say that in recent years, people have been laid off more often than at other times. A bad break, coupled with being in an area that has been particularly affected by a recession due to the types of industry in the area or a number of other factors, can very quickly lead to a bit of a chasm opening up on our CV.

Illness: Any one of us can get sick, it’s life, if it does happen, and it is serious, it can lead to a ‘time-out’ that lasts longer than we would prefer.

Related to this, a family member gets sick and someone has to step up and a career break is taken to care for a loved one.

Family: This is probably the more common CV gap. Mum or Dad takes time out during their child’s early years…if a sibling comes along, then this break can very easily become four, five or more years.

Graduation: Every graduate understands the importance of getting a foot on their career ladder of choice as quickly as possible, a year out at the end of studies, followed by some work that doesn’t relate to your qualification can send you on a tangent that is difficult to get back from.

Prison: Hey, you don’t think this is a problem? Actually, this topic would very easily constitute a whole article devoted to it....yes it is a serious problem to overcome [although, not necessarily the end of the world]…if this is affecting you, please get in touch for a bit of advice on how to proceed.

How to Account for the Gap

Let me start out by saying that the worst thing you can do is to try and conceal or lessen the gap…it will look clumsy and actually make the gap more obvious, it is not the way to go!

Don’t lie, or try to stretch dates, your ‘facts’ will definitely be checked and major discrepancies will come back to bite you. Even if you concoct an elaborate story to cover your tracks, you may live in fear of discovery…nobody wants to live like that.

Don’t fudge the issue either. Most CV writers prefer the presentation of dates in ‘month and year’ format “May 2006 – October 2015” is a transparent display, “2006 – 2007” could refer to a two year spell, or a two week spell, personally I would wonder why the candidate hadn’t been clearer!

Plugging the Gap!

It isn’t rocket science [unless you did actually work for NASA], a gap is only negative if it is either unexplained, or the details are a bit fuzzy and potentially evasive in nature, just be honest!

However you choose to explain, either directly within the CV, or in the Covering Letter, it should be clear: 1. There is a gap here. 2. The reason for the gap. 3. Whatever the reason for the gap, there is no longer an obstacle – for example, if you were ill, that you have made a full recovery.

You should also think about anything you did during that time that could legitimately be included in your CV, for example, any volunteer work you have done, or any courses or training you have undertaken. You may have even developed skills as a direct result of your career break.

How Can I Help?

There is no way to offer advice that fits every set of circumstances and you may have had a break for a combination of some of the above reasons or a completely different reason not mentioned here, so if I can offer any further insight, you can tweet me - @Careervisa or email me on [email protected], or connect with me on Linkedin

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