How to Explain an Employment Gap on your CV

How to Explain an Employment Gap on your CV

Many of us take time off, for one reason or another, from working. Sometimes, it’s by choice. In other cases, it can take time to find a new job. What the best way to explain an employment gap on your CV? It depends on the situation and what you did while you weren’t employed.

Cover the Gaps: When listing dates on your CV you don’t need to list the month/year if you were in a position for over a year or if your position spans multiple years. For example, you could say 2014 – 2017 (rather than May, 2014 – April, 2017) which would give you some room to cover the gaps:

Store Manager, XYZ Store
2014 – 2017

Sales Associate, ABC Store
2012 – 2014

As you can see, the resume doesn’t specifically say when the candidate started and ended employment, which can cover an employment gap.

Check Your Format: You can format your CV to minimize the gaps in your employment history. For example, don’t bold the dates and/or use a smaller font than the one you use for the company name or job title. Start your CV with a Summary Statement and Career Highlights section so you are highlighting your skills and accomplishments, rather than when you did what.

Omit a Job (or Two): You don’t need to include all your experience on your CV, especially if you have been in the workforce for years. It’s acceptable to limit the years of experience you include on your CV to fifteen years when seeking a managerial or professional position and ten years when looking for technical or high-tech job.

Other Experience: What did you do while you weren’t employed? Did you freelance or consult? How about volunteering? All those experiences count as work and can be included on your CV. List them as you would list your other jobs – with job title, company name, job description, and dates of employment. If you took a class, you can list that in the Education section of your CV.

Use Your Cover Letter: When you have employment gaps that don’t fit on your CV (you took time off to care for an aged parent or to raise a child) use your cover letter to explain the gap. That way, the employer will know that there’s an explanation for you being out of the workforce.

Tell the Truth: What’s most important, is to tell the truth. If you lie on your CV, it will probably come back to haunt you. Employers verify work history and if you put incorrect information on your CV, I can guarantee that they’ll find out.


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