Explaining Your Employment Gap

An employment gap is something that can occur in anyone’s career and there can be many reasons, either positive or negative as to why it occurred.

However, from a recruitment point of view this is an essential part of the picture which is going to come to light sooner or later, which to my mind should negate people’s discomfort in including the facts upfront in their CV.

Many people assume that employment gaps will be red flags for employers and unfairly impact them when being considered for a role; when in actual fact an explained gap makes it much easier for the hiring manager and may stop their imaginations run wild and assuming the worst.

So how should you approach dealing with an employment gap in your work history?

Be Upfront About it

As mentioned above, a hiring manager may think the worst when they come across a gap in employment and they are unlikely to have the time to chase you up about it. Rather they’ll just push your application to the side and move onto the next candidate.

The best way is to put the reality on the table, put their mind at ease by being upfront and including a short explanation as to why that particular break in work exists. That way they know there is an explanation and if you progress to the next stage of the application process, they can choose to ask you about it further. Be prepared to answer questions about any breaks during an interview, it’s not going to be a shock for anyone involved!

On the other hand, if a hiring manager finds out that you have covered up or lied about any employment gaps then the chances increase that they will not progress you any further and you will be back to square one with potentially a damaged reputation.

Don’t Worry About Every Gap in Employment

Lots of people will have gaps in their employment history with a wide selection of reasons. It’s a fact of life that there will be career breaks due to personal circumstance such as maternity leave or maybe being a carer or for the lucky few taking time out to travel or follow their dreams. On the other hand other people may have some periods where they have had no paid work be that unemployment or time between assignments for a contractor. Whatever the reason they should be included in your timeline, the amount of detail is a judgement call, for example, if you had a 3 month period away from work you will be fine putting that down as job seeking.

You need to asses the: why, where and when and decide for yourself if it needs to be expanded on further. If it was for negative reasons you should always expand on it, however, this is also a chance to put a positive spin on the situation and explain how you have grown and developed during that period and beyond.

Be Proactive When You’re In-between Roles

Depending on your situation during a break in employment, it is always a good idea to try and be proactive during your time away from work. Use it as a chance to further develop your skills or learn something new. At the very least you should be looking to stay up to date with your professional bodies and networks.

Remaining active where possible when not working will show any future employers that: whilst you are not able to be at work you are preparing yourself for when you are. Being able to show you are up to date in your field shows you will be able to hit the ground running.

If you are currently struggling to find your next project role take a look at our career guides and career clinics.

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