Gaps in CVs are anxiety-inducing. It can be tempting to lie on your CV and pretend that you have no long gaps between jobs. However, the right option is always to tell the truth. Here are ten tips on explaining gaps in your CV honestly while still selling yourself as the right candidate for the job.
1. Set Objectives
Before you say anything about your CV, get clear on what the point of it is. What is it you’re actually trying to achieve with your CV? Ensuring that you know what the purpose of your CV is will make it easier for you to talk about it, gaps and all.
2. Be Clear on Start and End Dates
Gaps in your CV can seem larger and more confusing if you don’t include the start and end dates for all the work you have actually done, especially if you’re an independent or flexible worker.
3. Be Upfront
We must not, under any circumstances, lie about the gaps on our CV. You mustn’t put yourself in a position where you’re being dishonest and are vulnerable to being caught in a lie by a potential employer.
4. Expect Questions
A CV is like a passport that opens the door for you into a new job or career. It’s the thing that everybody seeks from you – employers, recruiters, head-hunters. It’s that important. Therefore it’s only natural that these people are going to be curious about periods of time unaccounted for on the CV. Answer their questions patiently and respectfully.
5. Take Responsibility
When discussing the gaps on your CV, you must be able to account for yourself and for all the actions you’ve taken and the choices you’ve made. People will respect you if you take responsibility for the reasons for the gaps.
6. Tell a Story
Give as much detail as you’re comfortable giving when talking about the times you haven’t been working. Maybe you had an illness or went travelling – whatever the reason, there’s always a story to be told. So long as you’re telling an honest tale, it’s the best you can do.
7. Recognise Everyone Makes Mistakes
The people reading your CV know nobody’s perfect. They appreciate that, at some point, everybody will have made mistakes, whether it’s joining the wrong company and leaving as soon as we’ve realised or screwing up exams and having to put certain plans on hold. By admitting that these are the reasons for gaps in your CV, what you’re actually doing is showing vulnerability. There is nothing wrong with this. Indeed, it’s a very courageous way to be.
8. Accept You’re Not in Control
Once we hand over a CV for someone to read, there is absolutely nothing we can do to control that reader’s perception of us. We can’t control whether they’ll think good or bad of us. Also, when they read our CV they’ll have a clear idea of what they want us for. We can’t control whether we’re the round peg to fill their round hole.
About the author
Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition and the Career Ignition Club. Position Ignition is one of the UK’s leading career development and career planning companies. The Career Ignition Club offers a range of career support tools, advice and e-learning materials for its members. Follow Simon North and his team on twitter @PosIgnition and get more advice from him on their Career Advice Blog.