Taking a break from work isn’t the worst thing you can do for yourself. In fact, it might be a very necessary step for several reasons.
However, potential employers do not usually turn a kindly eye to a work gap of even a year on CVs or resumes.
When applying for a job after a work gap, you need to be aware of these limitations and possible prejudices. Moreover, you also need to know how to explain these gaps in a professional and positive manner.
While this may be difficult, simply ignoring the problem is likely to create a bad impression. This could then affect you getting a good position.
Some ways of explaining CV work gaps are explained below. Preparing yourself beforehand could really come in handy when you’re up for a job interview after a break:
1. Structure of the Detail
If you have held a number of jobs before this one, try to reel back on mentioning each and every position. For instance, if you have worked for a certain company at different feels, simply mention the company. There’s no need to go into detail about your journey there.
This way of creating a CV has at least two benefits. First, your potential new employer wouldn’t get bogged down by all the details. As a rule, a CV shouldn’t be too long; otherwise, the person perusing it may lose interest.
Secondly and more relevant to our topic, not giving details can make your work gaps look less glaring. Giving just the year of employment and not specifying the months is professionally adequate.
You should also hesitate to give your reasons for leaving the previous jobs. All this detail would probably not help you get a coveted position, especially when you have work gaps.
2. Deal with the Gap Wisely
You would obviously have to address the question of your work gap at some point. However, mentioning it in the middle of your CV is not the best idea. If you feel like giving an explanation before the actual interview, mention the gap in your cover letter.
Employers may even view your gap as something positive if you phrase it in the correct way. In your cover letter, you have the best opportunity of doing this. You can mention how this position is what inspired you to get back on track.
3. No Need to Hide It
Honesty is always the best way to go, whether you’re doing a job or applying for it. If you hide your work gap, it is most likely to come out sooner or later. When it does, you can be besmirched with the label of dishonesty for the rest of your career.
There is also no need to hide your reason for a work gap. If it was due to rehabilitation, for mental health, or to raise a family, be upfront about it. While you are perfectly at liberty to stay discreet about your problems, lying about the facts would only create trouble.
The best way to balance the situation is to lay out the reasons fair and square. If an employer insists on needless details, you’re probably better off walking away.
It is also morally and professionally unethical to lie about how long you’ve been at a previous job. Your new potential employer could easily call up your old one to verify the length of your stay.
At all costs, do not underestimate the hiring manager or disrespect their expertise. Finding the best candidate for a position is part of their work description. If someone doesn’t pan out, they are the ones usually blamed.
If you are the best person for the job, you will probably get it. However, any show of dishonesty would make them think twice about hiring you.
4. Deal with the Gaps through Professional Help
If you find that getting a job is much harder after a work gap, it may be time to hire a professional. There are several mentors and coaches who can help you to get over your rut.
This proactive decision may also be a positive sign to employers, who would know that you’re serious about bettering yourself. They would also notice that you’re utilizing your time in the best manner possible.
Your time with a mentor or coach could also be a valuable and unique aspect of your CV. This can work in your favor by setting you apart from the other job applicants.
5. Learn to Speak Positively
Your work gap may not be voluntary, but there’s always a way to put a positive spin on things. You don’t have to admit that you couldn’t find employment.
A simple way out is to affirm that you took out some time to focus on personal or career development.
When you’re directly questioned about the work gap, also talk about what you did during it. This could include improvements in your performance, such as increased typing speed, additional training, etc.
6. Prepare for the Interview
If your potential employers like your CV, they would call you in for an interview. Hence, prepare yourself beforehand for what you would say about your work gap. As mentioned in the last point, it is always best to stay on the positive side of the situation.
Moreover, it is a good idea to delve into some research about the company you’re hoping for a position with. You may also want to look up the latest market and industry trends and patterns related to the job.
In this way, you can show the interviewers that your gap didn’t have a negative effect on your capabilities.
Explaining a work gap is a way of coming to terms with it. If you are uncomfortable about those empty months, there are several ways to frame them and even fill them with something useful.
Humans are constantly evolving and what they do eventually shapes them as a person and an employee. Hence, don’t be afraid of explaining how your work gap molded you into a better candidate for future jobs.