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Explaining gaps in employment

If you’re in the process of writing your CV and are tempted to try and cover up a gap in employment by changing dates or leaving it unexplained, think again. Many hiring managers consider long breaks between jobs as suspicious and will be even more suspicious if it turns out you’ve fabricated your employment dates when it comes to checking references.
Being honest during a hiring process is essential in every job search and it starts with your CV and cover letter. Take a look at our advice on explaining the following four career breaks.

1. Illness

If you’ve had a career break due to illness, it’s really important to emphasise why you’re looking for work again. If it’s the case that you did have to leave your last job because of health reasons, it’s ok to say this, but then explain that you are now in a fit state to return to work. If the gap took place a long time ago then you might not have to include it on your CV, just include the most relevant recent information.

2. Termination or redundancy

Explaining termination is probably the most difficult employment gap to put a positive spin on. With both termination and redundancy the key is to emphasise what you were doing during your employment break to stay marketable. For instance, did you do any volunteering or complete any additional training/educational courses?

3. Travelling

Taking a break in your career to go travelling will always be viewed differently depending on the hiring manager. Many employers appreciate the fact that you’ve been travelling before you apply for a role at their organisation because you might be less likely to do it again. For some it means you’ve ‘got it out of your system’ and for others it shows a sense of independence and cultural awareness.

4. Caring for family

Many people take time out of their career to raise their children or take care of a relative, so don’t think you should try and cover this up. However, it might be worth mentioning that your children are now in full-time education or childcare, or that you no longer have care commitments and are ready to return to your career.
It is highly likely that you’ll be asked about career breaks during any interviews you get, so it’s best practice to have explained them already in your cover letter to avoid any awkward questions at interview. You may still get asked, but only if the hiring manager needs more details.
Now that your CV and cover letter are in good order, find out how to select referees.