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Mind the gaps in your CV

Statistics show that recruiting employers make up their mind about a CV within 12 seconds, on average. As a result, it is paramount to create a strong first impression. In an ideal world CVs will read in perfect chronological order with no “black holes” that demand justification.


However, this is a rarity and does not take into account the curveballs that life throws at us, which can alter our paths considerably. From the interviewer’s perspective, CVs with gaps or ‘holes’ in them are areas for further investigation.


There may be a number of reasons why people leave one role and have a lengthy gap before commencing another, for example:

  • Long-term care of sick spouse or relative
  • Study leave
  • Going travelling after a long term period of employment
  • Redundancy – in recent years, this is something that has affected far more people than ever before   
     

Does it matter?

A good interviewer will always investigate gaps in a CV. If an individual has a history of continuous employment and can justify their period of unemployment there is a very strong case for not holding this against them.  Many professionals have been out of work for prolonged periods throughout the recession, however, this is nothing to be ashamed about and most interviewers are very understanding and sympathetic in this instance.

Individuals should be prepared to answer questions which address any gaps in their CV in a truthful and accurate manner at interview.

Can it mean the difference between someone getting a job and being refused a job?

It may mean that your CV will not be selected for an interview as certain employers require up to date skills – that is why you need to portray your work experience in the most positive light possible – match your skills to the role and if they are good enough, an employer may overlook times and dates and call you in for interview.

In an ideal world, CVs will read in perfect chronological order with no “black holes” that demand justification. 

Is there anything the candidate can do to make this situation better? Is it better to lie?

Never, ever lie about your dates of employment. They are easily checked and if you are found to be lying your application will be terminated immediately and if any offer has already been extended it will be retracted.

How do you justify CV gaps?

Preparation is vital. Have your answers ready so that when you are asked why you have left jobs you are able to answer easily and naturally. People will respect your honesty. There is no shame in admitting you made a mistake by going to a new job, only to find out it was not what you were looking for, or that the company had undergone a redundancy programme. It is more important to be able to show how you reacted to this and what you have been doing in the interim, e.g. upskilling, volunteer work, networking etc.

How can someone sell themselves and persuade an employer they should be hired?

Interview preparation is vital. Know your strengths and weaknesses and apply them to the job on offer. Do more research than your competition, know more about the company and the job than anyone else and use an interview as an opportunity to show your passion and enthusiasm. Everybody wants to work with a committed individual so even if your skillset is not as up to date as others, your dedication and focus will reap rewards.

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