CV Writing 101: How to explain gaps in your CV

Written by Patrick Bailey

Sometimes, people experience an extended period where they’re not working anywhere. This is known as a gap in employment. An employment gap can last months or years.

There are several reasons why people have gaps between jobs. Some may have been laid off and are finding it difficult to find something new. Many Empower Amsterdam clients may have relocated and/or are in the process of changing jobs. Still, others might have taken time off to raise their children full-time.

When you decide to start looking for a new job, many employers might want to know why you took time off and whether it could happen in the future. Here are a few good ways you can explain unemployment gaps on your CV or resumé.

Label the reason as a job

Some people have short employment gaps that last a few months, while some people stay out of work for a year or more. How can you explain wider gaps to a prospective employer?

Try listing the reason for this gap as part of your employment experience. What this means is you could describe what you were doing as a job itself.

For example, if you took five years from full-time employment to raise children, you can list this pursuit as full-time parent on your CV while including the years, duties, and location of this job. Consider making this a brief entry so it doesn't distract from the other relevant positions you have held.

Change the style or format of your CV

One way to make your employment gap look less obvious is to change your CV's style or format. A chronological format resume is a common style, but it might highlight extended periods when you were unemployed.

To de-emphasize these periods, switch the style of your CV to a functional format. This style focuses more on your skills and achievements rather than chronological periods of employment.

Using this format, you can also include sections for a career summary statement and a list of key accomplishments that could help your CV stand out from others.

Consider Eliminating Months on Your CV

Another good tip to making your employment gap less obvious is to omit the months on your CV. If your employment gaps lasted only for a few months, you could disguise them by removing the months from the date of the position.

As an example, if you held a position from March 2019 to May 2019, consider eliminating the months for that entry and say you worked in that position in 2019.

This method could work if your gaps were less than a year and if you've worked in positions for more than a year. While this method could help employers initially consider your CV, it still helps to be prepared to explain any gaps in your employment.

Remember that honesty is the best policy

When explaining employment gaps in your CV, it's also important to be honest. Employers will appreciate you when you tell the truth about your extended period or periods of unemployment.

Being honest shows that you are a potential candidate that is trustworthy. For example, if the reason for your employment gap was because you were organizing your family’s relocation, don't be afraid to explain this to the employer. They might find your thorough response to this question refreshing.

Such answers can show that you’re willing to improve yourself and able to solve problems, traits that could translate well in the workplace.

Explain it with confidence

When you explain your employment gaps, be prepared to discuss them in a clear, articulate way. It's also important to be confident in your explanation. If you don't feel assured about what you are saying, it could influence how you carry yourself in the interview.

Share with the employer the life skills you've learned while you were unemployed. Also be sure to mention any professional development or formal training you completed during that time. Such training can help you look poised and demonstrate your professional commitment.

Many people in the professional world experience gaps in their employment. Regardless of your situation, you can explain your time away from work with professionalism and in ways that can help further your career.


Guest Writer Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. 

Sources - What We Do - How to Explain Gaps in Employment - How to Explain the Gap in your Resume with Ease