How best to describe CV gaps in your employment history

Published on: 17 Dec 2018

Gaps in your CV

A perennial question that we are asked by candidates seeking new executive support roles is how to explain the occurrence of gaps in their employment history.  “Is it best to gloss over it?” ask some job-seekers, and we do also hear “I have been tempted to make something up?”   In our experience, being open and acknowledging breaks in your working life is the best approach: it leaves the candidate at the helm of their career narrative and avoids becoming stressed out by a tangled web of half-truths.

It is perfectly possible to apply for a role with breaks in your CV and still be considered the best person for the role.  We advise applicants to:

Avoid inaccuracies - It is counter-productive to lie on your CV and an absolute no-no. Inaccurate CVs lead in the worst case scenario to being caught out as having lied, claiming to be somewhere you weren’t, which will lead you straight to the bottom of the rejection pile.

Explain fully what you did between jobs. Perhaps candidates have used the time to gain extra qualifications, freelance, volunteer, travel, all of which add value to the overall package you are presenting.  List the experiences you gleaned to explain gaps in your CV which will help you to come across as a more rounded person.

Include all your employment start and end dates – make sure your CV is easy to follow with the dates of employment displayed on your CV in a chronological order, with the most recent employment first. It can appear vague if large periods of time are missing and can give the impression that gaps between employment are longer than they actually are.

Own the gaps – candidates we see earn far more respect from the go-get if they take responsibility for the reasons for the gaps in their employment history. Be proud of the life experiences you have gleaned – it’s what makes you who you are. 

Clarify what you want to achieve - distil your objectives when you are writing a CV.  Explain the gaps in a way that can still position yourself as the ideal candidate for a role.

By Emily Bain, co-founder of boutique recruiter Bain and Gray