02 Nov 2021
There are multiple reasons people choose to take a break from their careers, such as furthering education, traveling, or attending to family matters. But these gaps don’t look good on an application for a job.
If you know how to address this time off on your CV, your chances of earning interviews immediately increase. This article provides four tips for writing a CV after a long career gap in a way that still impresses hiring managers and lands you the job you deserve.
First, note that it is important to address the career gap on your CV by adding it to your work experience section. Hiring managers appreciate honesty and might assume the worst if you try to omit the topic.
More often than not, avoiding the topic will prompt hiring managers to question the reasons behind your career gap even more than if you stated it in the first place.
Similarly, you should not extend the length of your previous jobs because it is easily checked by calling previous employers.
This gives you the opportunity to cast your career break in a more professional light, such as stating you learned a new relevant skill or did volunteering.
Such a strategy is particularly relevant if taking a career break was not your choice. You could explain how losing your job or being affected by other circumstances refocused your career goals.
Keep in mind that both hard and soft skills are valued by hiring managers. If you nurture your creativity, adaptability, etc during your gap year(s), write it down. As there are fewer people who have career gaps compared to those who do not, your CV gives you a unique platform to express yourself and your goals.
For example, if you took a gap to go traveling, your entry may look like this:
Traveled in Asia, 2020-2021
- Backpacked along the Great Wall of China to shoot cultural videos
- Taught me Chinese by conversing with locals and self-studying
- Updated my travel blog with edited photos of more than 30 cities
- Volunteered to teach English for free in Vietnam Community School
Additionally, you can include a sentence in your cover letter that goes more in-depth about your career gap. Just be sure to keep this cover letter section brief, as you do not want it to distract from more relevant experience. Simply state that while your career gap was beneficial, you are ready to start focusing on your career. Such a statement helps reassure the hiring manager about your work ethic.
CV Cover Letter:
- After taking six months off work to raise children and maintain the household, I am ready to rejoin the marketing industry.
- I took time away from my professional career to travel and develop my passion for photography.
Employers will be impressed if you can prove you’ve immersed yourself in new cultures, volunteered, or gained new life skills that set you apart.
Using years instead of months keeps your CV’s experience section to the point and downplays your career gap while highlighting to hiring managers that you have other relevant experiences they should focus on.
This method works particularly well if your work experiences align in a way that makes it seem like you didn’t have a period of unemployment (like leaving Company A in 2020 and rejoining the workforce at the end of 2021). Be sure to still prepare answers about the specific dates of your employment history because such questions will still likely come up.
Recruiters only spend around 30 seconds reading an individual CV, so applications that do not hold their attention will be dismissed. If you are worried about explaining your career gap, you can lay out your CV in a way that highlights your skills and experiences first with your employment history further down the page.
This “skill-based” format is perfectly suited for candidates with little work experience and will help you rank above people with job experience by showcasing your hard and soft skills and downplaying your career gap.
Additionally, you can move your achievements higher-up, especially if you’ve accomplished something relevant to the job you’re applying for. Achievements are more notable to hiring managers than a list of job responsibilities or tasks because they act as concrete examples of how you made a positive impact on a business.
Just remember — it is not unusual to take a career break. Employment gaps do not stop you from landing a great job, as long as your CV is well written and you’re actually qualified for the position you want.
The main thing employers are looking for (outside of basic qualifications and the necessary skill-set) is an enthusiastic, hard-working, and reliable candidate So approaching your application with tact and honesty will automatically put you in a better position than if you lie about your career gap.
For more job strategies for those out of work, click here.
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