Five easy ways to explain the gap in your CV

Do you have a career gap in your CV? Well, you’re not alone. Many women often take a break from work for various reasons, from redundancy and maternity leave, to travel, dismissal, and for some, personal choices. Whatever your reason should ideally not hinder you from getting your next job, but it doesn’t guarantee your new hiring manager will let it slide, hence the need to know the best way to explain it. 

But first…

What is a career gap?

A career break is a period of time spent out of employment during your professional years. The timeline typically ranges from a few months to several years. A gap that’s shorter than three months shouldn’t really be of much concern because it’s within the acceptable timeframe for a good break.

Why is there a gap in between your career?

Most recruiters will accept your career break, especially if you took time off (even for several years) to focus on motherhood.

But there are numerous other reasons why you may need to take a break from work. These include:

  • Sabbatical leave– This is a pre-approved break from work to allow you to do whatever you’d like with your time, mostly for personal or professional growth. Here, you’re still employed, but do not earn a salary during the break.  
  • Study leave- You can take a full-time study break to redirect your career or earn a new qualification. An example is attending teaching practice if your current job is not in the education sector.
  • Maternity leave– This is the time taken to bond and care for your newborn baby
  • Caring for loved ones– You could take time off to care for a sick relative
  • Redundancy– This is a situation where you remain unemployed or can’t go to work as in what happened when Covid-19 hit. 
  • Travel– Travel often counts as a valid reason even if it was meant to relax and explore different cultures

How do you explain the gap in your CV?

  1. Reformat the times for short-time gaps-Labelling your working timelines in years rather than in months may help you shift the attention away from any short periods of time that you may have been off work within the same year. 

For instance, instead of writing- 

Administrator– Feb 2021- September 2021



  1. Detail your cover letter– Rather than hide them, explain your gaps in detail in your cover letter in a clear and concise manner. Remember, however, that you don’t need to give all the sacred details. 
  2. Be honest – Hiring managers often handle numerous such cases and can easily tell when you’re lying. Being upfront about your gap doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose the opportunity if you qualify for the job. 
  3. Showcase proactive characteristics– Were you engaged in any voluntary activities or internships? These can come in handy to help fill those gaps. Take this opportunity to also highlight your skills and key achievements as the hiring recruiter will likely pay more attention to it.
  4. Explain travel positively– Taking time off to travel isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you capture it as a valuable learning experience for you. However, there’s no need to lie if you took a career break to explore the world later in life.

In conclusion

Having a career gap in your CV isn’t unusual. However, failing to address it could make it unusual. Remember, you don’t want to seem lazy or unprepared for the task ahead, so address the gaps as early as you can so that the hiring manager can focus on other areas of your CV.

Sources: topcv, reed, timetastic, Phlebotomy Examiner, Career Side Kick

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