How to Overcome a Gap in Your Career History

5 years ago


Like it or not, your CV is your passport to a new job – so getting it right is crucial!

Did you know?

  • The average time spent looking at a CV is between 5 and 7 seconds
  • One spelling or grammar mistake and your CV could be chucked in the rejection pile
  • 88% rejection rate if you have a photo of yourself on your CV
  • An average of 250 CVs are received for each job opportunity

Gaps in your career history can be one of the key ‘turn offs’ for employers – getting over the first hurdle is often the hardest, so first of all – get your CV right!

There are many reasons which may result in a break in your career from a cause for celebration to a bad decision. What’s important to remember is that these gaps need to be accounted for and how you deliver this information can be crucial to securing your dream role.

Here’re the 6 reasons for career gaps that I come across most frequently…

  1. Maternity
  2. Dismissal
  3. Quit/Walked out
  4. Redundancy
  5. Sickness
  6. Caring for a relative


Whilst some of these are very easy to clarify, I do appreciate that some situations can be difficult to explain and can make you feel that hiding it away is for the best. I promise you this is NOT a good idea and it comes down to the age-old saying “honesty is the best policy”. You don’t have to delve into the nitty gritty but avoiding the matter altogether will cause the gap to stand out even more.

If there is a gap in dates try inserting ‘Career Break’ or ‘Unemployed’. You can provide details underneath this to explain why if you wish. Ensure you get in there any training, courses or extracurricular activities that you undertook that could add to your story.

i.e. “Following redundancy, I took 3 months out of employment to re-evaluate my career. During this time I conducted some voluntary work at my local library as I have a passion for reading. I also took the time to thoroughly research the local employment market which resulted in me securing a new opportunity within the finance  sector”.


The Interview

So they’ve invited you for interview – they think you’ve got the skills to do the job – now it’s time to verbally overcome any questions about your career history.

No matter how the career gap occurred, the main things you should focus on are being positive and prepared. If you have been invited to an interview, the chances are that the question is going to be asked.

Never be negative about a reason for leaving a position, as much as the situation may have been frustrating to you, the interview should feel positive so you should try to put a positive spin on it if you can. Be aware of the language you use; avoid sentences like “I couldn’t/can’t find a job” and instead use wording like “I am focussed on finding the right opportunity” or “I’m looking for a role that will help me forward my career”. This can make the gap look deliberate and with a purpose.

Always be prepared for the questions about gaps in your CV, if you know it’s coming and you have practised your answers, you will respond with conviction and positivity, giving the interviewer confidence in your capabilities.


The Truth Will Out

Have you ever been tempted to perhaps extend a previous position to bridge a gap or claim redundancy as the reason for leaving? As with most companies, it is very likely that the employer will look to obtain references to ascertain dates of employment and the reason for you leaving – be accurate!


Try and fill out new gaps

If you do find yourself out of work it is easy to become despondent when trying your hardest to find work; especially when no-one seems to be saying yes. Why not use this time to be proactive, take up a new skills course or engage in some voluntary work to broaden your knowledge in a particular area. New employers will be impressed by your willingness and commitment to refreshing your skills; this could considerably enhance your chances of landing the perfect opportunity.


Trust me, if you are honest, positive, prepared and determined, you will get yourself a new role without any trouble.

If you’d like some help and advice to secure your dream role in Lancashire then please get in touch!


Helen Jackson

[email protected]

01254 239363




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