How to handle gaps in your CV

How to explain employment gaps in your resume


Unexplained gaps on a resume often raise big red flags. This should not be the case as people take career breaks for personal reasons such as raise a family, care for an ailing loved one, health complication, resignation from toxic jobs, or simply just a break to figure life out after going through bad patch. These factors are somewhat difficult to explain in a three-page resume. And often job seekers feel the pressure to curate an explanation that doesn’t scare off recruiters and employers. Below are ways you can pump your CV and emerge the best candidate and at the same time help end the career gap stigma;

  1. Have a competency-based CV: This is a CV that will solely focus on your skills as opposed to job titles and period worked in past companies. This type of CV allows potential employers to align your experience and skills with the requirements of the role you are applying downplaying existing gaps.

2. Own the gap: Do not be embarrassed or ashamed of the employment gap. Discuss the gap positively in a way that shows you were able to focus on other things that are important to you. Be sure to state meaningful activities done during the break otherwise avoid going into too much detail.

3. Include experience gained within the gap: The gaps can come with unique benefits such as personal developments, lifetime experiences, skills enhancements, furthering education. These are achievements worth stating. You can turn the gap into your story by stating how despite the break you were able to keep up with the industry or citing ways you were preparing to bounce through activities like volunteering and freelancing.

4. Consider a cover letter:  Cover letters are important in making a good first impression for job seekers. Cover letters can be used to explain employment gaps. Only address those gaps spent gaining skills or those that bring out your unique character in the cover letter. For instance, If the gap exists due to reasons like left employment to venture into business, this shows you are a risk-taker. Other reasons such as Volunteering, furthering education showcase your capability and strength as an employee.

5. Connect: Create a resume that will connect with the hiring manager from the onset and eventually overlook the gap. On average, it takes a recruiter six seconds to scan through resumes. So how do you use your six seconds well? Let your resume objective be your elevator pitch. A resume objective presents your value proposition to the hiring company. It should show why you are the best fit candidate for the vacant position and personify your brand. Aim to pique the recruiters’ interest and create a connection at the very top part of your resume. This will steer attention away from the gaps below.

There is certainly no perfect candidate or resume. Recruiters need to focus on transferable skills, attitude, ingenuity and drive, and other job-related factors while hiring and not parameters such as a candidates’ career history. For jobseekers, if a potential employer is too concerned about the employment gap and not the skills, I suggest you carefully consider whether the employer will be the right fit for you.

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