Updated: Oct 10
(This was originally published as a guest blog by https://titanrecruitment.co.uk/ They are a Glasgow based agency specialising in HR, supply chain and manufacturing, amongst other sectors. Get in touch to see how they can help YOU)
So there’s a gap on your CV. It’s not uncommon, life happens but it can be looked down on by employers and especially recruiters, so what should you do if you have had long periods without paid work?
For me, the answer to that depends on what you were doing at the time.
If you took time out of paid work to look after children or other family members, then a sentence with ‘Caring for family/Raising Children’ or similar and the dates is adequate. You don't need to go into detail about the tasks you were doing ie nurse, social worker, cook or mention multitasking, that advice has dated badly!
The one exception to this is if you are applying for a role in the care sector when caring for an elderly person and helping them with medication, appointments, advocacy and personal care would be a huge help and counts towards your experience in the sector. If this is the case, then DO mention all of the work that you did for the family member during this period.
If you studied for qualifications or undertook voluntary work during this time, then these should go under the separate headings of ‘Voluntary Work’ and ‘Education and Training’ or similar on your CV again UNLESS they are really relevant to your new role, when you might want to mention them sooner.
If you had to take time out due to your own ill health or difficult family circumstances, this can be trickier to describe. I totally understand the desire to be honest but ultimately, your CVs job is to get you an interview so don’t allow something that happened in the past to affect your earning potential in the future.
A good way to get round this is to describe it as a ‘Career Break’ and again give dates. Employers will ask if they want to know more. Many things could have caused this including break up’s, illness and bereavement but also you could have come into money, downsized or relocated or your family set up could have changed. This covers all of these and more. Again, if you studied or undertook voluntary work at this time then you can reference this in other sections of your CV.
If you took the break specifically to study then you can say ‘Full time Student’ and give dates in your experience section, then list the qualification in the education section.
It’s a good idea not to ignore gaps of longer than around 1 year as not mentioning them can make employers wonder what was going on at this time. A simple sentence with dates fills that gap and allows them to ask more if they need to.
This one isn't always cut and dried so as a rule, don't apologise or over compensate but do mention it. Life happens and LinkedIn now has a drop down 'Career Break' option under experience if that helps you to describe the time on there.
Hope this helps and as always, get in touch if you need more support. You can email me at email@example.com
If you are wondering about what goes where, there's a free CV template here http://bit.ly/CvTemplate to help you with laying out your CV.