If your CV is selected and you’re invited to an interview, you can almost guarantee that any gaps in your employment history will come up. The best thing you can do for yourself is to prepare a well-structured response, so you’re not caught off guard.
When talking to an interviewer about why you were out of work, try to put a positive spin on it. Talk about how the time off turned you into a better candidate: maybe you took a course and earned a few new qualifications, or perhaps you used the time to re-assess your career goals and put together a five-year plan that matches your ambitions.
Even if you spent your time off doing something that’s not really relevant to the job you’re now pursuing, you can still talk about what you learned in a way that reflects positively on you. Here are a couple of examples...
- I’ve spent the last few months caring for a sick relative. The experience has made me a more patient, considerate person and taught me a lot about handling people’s emotions in difficult situations.
- I didn’t have a job in 2018 because I spent that year travelling around South America. Living in a foreign place for an extended period really broadened my horizons, and because I was on a tight budget, I learned how to be resourceful and manage my money properly.
If you made an effort to keep up with industry news during your break, mention this too (but don’t lie about this, as the interviewer may ask follow-up questions).
While it’s not necessary to go into minute detail when explaining a gap in your employment history, it’s always best to be honest. Hiring managers will run various checks to verify most of the information you provide, and it won’t look good if they discover you’ve lied to them.
Most reasons for spending time away from the world of work are perfectly understandable and, if explained well, most employers will appreciate your honesty and move on with the rest of the interview.
Common reasons for a gap in your CV
Below are some typical reasons why someone might have a gap in their CV and how to talk about them positively:
- Job search –“I’m taking my time to find my ideal position. I’m using this time wisely to broaden my knowledge and skills, while keeping up to date with industry news. I feel this role suits my interests and skillset perfectly.”
- Return to education – “Personal and professional development is important to me and I felt it would be valuable to return to education to enhance my skills and knowledge. Now that I’ve completed my course, I am ready to take on my next challenge.”
- Travel – “I took some time out to expose myself to new perspectives and immerse myself in different cultures. I am now ready to return to work feeling refreshed and inspired.”
- Illness or injury – “I was unable to continue working in my previous role due to illness, however I am now back to full health and ready to return to the workforce.”
- Caring for a loved one – “I left my previous role to care for a family member full-time. This person is now fully recovered/receiving full-time care elsewhere, so I am able to commit to a new role.”