Worried about that career gap? Wondering how best to represent it on your C.V? Read on as our consultant Rose gives insight into these gaps, the different scenarios and how best to go about finding a role following a gap. #AskRose

Career gaps in your CV? Are they a career killer?

A question came to me this week regarding career gaps and their impact on your overall career. It’s something I have first-hand experience of; I had a 2-year gap in my CV before securing my first job in recruitment. I left my previous job due to illness and it took me quite a while to recover and it was tough to find a job afterward!

Overall, the answer is “it depends on your circumstances” and I find each person is unique in this situation but I’ll address the major “types” of career gaps and how you might address them.

Luckily, if you’re reading this, you’re probably in the technology sector and much better placed than I was to get back into the swing of things.

Ideally, you’ll have a strong job history built up before you have a gap. For obvious reasons, the stronger a candidate you are, the easier it will be for you to find a job post-gap. The exception to this are graduates. Graduates can take the summer to travel, work, whatever – then go find work. Just be wary of taking an entire year – you’ll come back with rusty skills to a market full of fresh new graduates with fresh skills. If you take a gap year – be prepared to study hard when you come back!

1) Deliberate Career Gap

You’ve taken some time off to travel, have a family, build a house. It’s not hugely important what was the reason– the point is that it was planned and deliberate. You can just put a note in your CV to that effect. Everyone is allowed a career break. Maybe you were made redundant and decided to take a few months to pursue some personal projects or experiences. If you are a good candidate with strong skills, there’s nothing stopping you from stepping back into the market. You don’t need to go into huge detail. Just note on your CV as follows.

Career Gap                         Jan 2017 – Oct 2017

Took some time off to travel – Asia, South America, Europe

Software Engineer           Jan 2014 – Dec 2016

 

2) It’s taking a while to find a job

This one is a little tougher. If you’re trying to find a job and you’re not landing one – it’s time to start looking at why. The longer it takes, the harder it’s going to be to get interviews and a job. If it’s a gap less than 3 months, there isn’t much cause to worry. When it starts to get to 6 months, then some employers/recruiters may start to see red flags.

You should look at your job search process. Are you getting interviews? If not – then you need to improve your job applications. Target yourself more effectively, write good cover notes, talk to a good recruitment consultant (Hi!). If you’re getting interviews but not getting the job – look at your interviews. Where do you need to improve? Do you fail the technical? The competency? The HR interview? Again, a good recruitment consultant can help you here (Hi!!).

Use this space in your CV to mention any training you have been doing or any personal projects you have been working on. Employers will always appreciate candidates who have kept themselves active through these breaks and invested in upskilling or improving themselves.

3) Unplanned Career Gap

This is probably the hardest one and it’s one I’ve experienced myself.  Something knocked you off your career path and you had to stop working. You got sick, someone in your family got sick and you have been taking care of them, you had to change location etc. The reasons can be varied and are individual to each person.

A brief and undetailed explanation is best. There’s generally no point in hiding it – honesty is the best policy.

Career Gap                         Jan 2017 – Oct 2017

                Recovering from illness. Fully fit for work now.

Computer Place                Jan 2014 – Dec 2016

 

My general advice is to be brief but honest about your career gaps on your CV.

During these gaps, if you have been taking on any voluntary work or projects during this time, put them down too. When I was out with a chronic condition, I did some voluntary work and this really helped me to secure my first job when I was back to full health.

There’s lots of advice about to the tune of “never mention illness on your CV – they’ll think you’re still sick and won’t hire you”. “Don’t say you were traveling, they’ll think you’re a flake”. It’s possible this is true for some employers.

However, a job is a two-way fit. If an employer would turn you down for recovering from a serious illness – are they a good cultural fit for you? If they turn their nose up at someone adventurous enough to go backpacking around South America, you’re not going to be happy there! Life happens to us all and good employers understand that!

 

Rose Farrell is a technical recruitment consultant who has first-hand experience dealing with a career gap and is well placed to help you overcome any gap and get back into the job you want! She will be answering questions weekly, so if you have any career or recruitment questions for Rose to answer next week, comment on our page on LinkedIn, tweet @VerifyCommunity with #AskRose or send them over to [email protected]

Read her other articles giving insight into the recruitment process at http://www.verifyrecruitment.com/blog/