Blog Img

How to explain a career gap on your CV

Back to Blogs

We understand that navigating the job search can be challenging, and sometimes, life throws curveballs that lead to gaps in your employment history.

Here at Digital Waffle, we want to assure you that a career gap doesn't disqualify you! In fact, with the right approach, you can turn it into an opportunity to showcase valuable skills and experiences.

What is a career gap?

A career gap is a period of time when you haven't been formally employed. This can happen for a variety of reasons, from taking a well-deserved break to travel the world to focusing on personal or professional development.

Why it’s important to explain a career gap

There are two main reasons why addressing a gap in your CV is important:

Provides transparency and mitigates any concerns

An unexplained gap can raise red flags for employers. They might wonder why there's a gap and if it indicates something negative. By addressing the reason for the gap, you show honesty and transparency, putting them at ease.

Highlights the skills gained

Even during a break from traditional employment, you might have gained valuable skills and experiences. This could be from volunteering, taking courses, travelling, or even caring for family. Explaining the gap and how it helped you develop relevant skills can put a positive spin on the break and demonstrate continued growth.

Tips on how to explain career gaps

Here are some strategies to help you confidently address a career gap on your CV and during the interview:

Be honest about it

Always be upfront about the reason for the gap. Avoid elaborating on unnecessary details, but a simple and honest explanation builds trust.

Be proactive in your approach

If you've been out of work, showcase your initiative! Did you volunteer, take courses, or freelance? Highlighting these activities demonstrates that you used your time productively and kept yourself engaged.

Make sure you remain positive

Instead of dwelling on the gap, focus on the positive aspects of your time away. Did you gain new skills? Develop a fresh perspective? Framing the gap as a period of growth shows a positive outlook.

Be resourceful

When presenting your CV, consider focusing on the most relevant experiences and skills. You can also omit the month on your employment dates if the gap is short. Additionally, your cover letter can be a great place to elaborate on the gap and its positive impact.

Be prepared to address this

It's likely you'll be asked about the gap during your interview. Prepare a concise and positive explanation that highlights any relevant skills gained. Anticipating these questions shows you've thought about the gap and are ready to discuss it confidently.

Common reasons for a career gap and how to explain them in your interview

Here are some specific examples to help you tailor your explanation:

You’ve been made redundant

What you should say:

"Unfortunately, my previous company went through a round of redundancies due to [brief explanation, e.g., restructuring, budget cuts]. While it was an unexpected situation, I'm proud of what I achieved in my [number] years there, particularly [mention a specific accomplishment]. I'm now looking for a new opportunity where I can utilise my skills and experience in [mention relevant skills]."

What you shouldn't say:

"My previous company had it out for me from the beginning" (negative and blame shifting).”

"I don't really know what happened, they just let me go" (unprepared and lacking specifics).”

You’ve been looking for a job

What you should say:

"Since leaving my previous role, I've been actively searching for a new opportunity that aligns with my career goals in [mention industry or specific role]. I've used this time to [mention relevant activities, e.g., upskill through online courses, network within the industry]. I'm confident that my skills and experience in [mention relevant skills] would be a valuable asset to your team."

What you shouldn’t say:

"I haven't been able to find anything lately" (comes across as lacking direction).”

"I've just been taking it easy" (implies a lack of motivation).”

You’ve been travelling

What you should say:

"I took a [length of time] trip abroad to [mention destinations or purpose, e.g., experience different cultures, learn a new language]. This experience broadened my horizons and helped me develop valuable skills in [mention skills gained, e.g., adaptability, problem-solving]. I'm now eager to return to the workforce and leverage these skills in a new and challenging role."

What you shouldn’t say:

"I just needed a break from working" (doesn't highlight any positive aspects).”

"I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next" (lacks focus and career direction).”

You’ve gone back into education

What you should say:

"I decided to invest in my professional development by pursuing a [mention qualification] in [mention field]. This has equipped me with new skills in [mention skills] and a deeper understanding of [mention relevant area]. I'm excited to apply this knowledge and contribute to a team environment."

What you shouldn’t say:

"I felt like my previous skills were outdated" (implies negativity about past experience).”

"I wasn't sure what else to do" (downplays the value of education).”

You’ve taken time off due to illness

What you should say:

"I had to take some time away from work due to a health issue. I'm happy to report that I've made a full recovery and I'm now eager to return to work and contribute my skills and experience to a new position. I'm particularly interested in this opportunity because [mention specific reasons]."

What you shouldn’t say:

“​​I have a recurring health problem which makes it quite difficult to hold down a job.”

You’ve been looking after your children

What you should say:

"I took a break from my career to focus on raising my children. This experience has allowed me to develop strong skills in [mention transferable skills, e.g., time management, organisation, communication]. I'm now ready to return to the workforce and I'm confident that I can bring renewed energy and focus to this role."

What you shouldn’t say:

"I had to quit my job because of the kids" (implies a lack of commitment to work).”

"I'm not sure if I can handle a demanding job anymore" (raises concerns about work-life balance).”

You’ve had some family issues

What you should say:

"I had to dedicate some time to a personal family situation. That situation has now been resolved, and I'm fully committed to returning to work and focusing on my career. I'm particularly interested in this opportunity because [mention specific reasons]."

H4 - What you shouldn’t say:

“I’ve had personal family issues, which I’d rather not discuss.”

Remember, a career gap doesn't define you. By being honest, proactive, and positive in your approach, you can effectively address it on your CV and in the interview. Highlight the skills and experiences gained during your time away, and showcase your enthusiasm for the new opportunity.

If you are currently seeking new job opportunities, we invite you to explore the amazing jobs we are currently recruiting for. To speak with one of our experienced recruitment consultants, please get in touch with us today!