3 reasons you should never leave a (long) gap in your CV
There are a myriad of reasons why you might have a long gap in your employment over the course of your career. Life can throw all sorts of spanners into the works. Whether it’s because of an illness that forces you out of work to be a carer or the person cared for; it could be a case of trying to avoid burnout by taking a sabbatical and travelling around the world; it might even be a redundancy (forced for otherwise) which has taken you out of the workforce for a period of time. Whatever the reason, the worst thing you can do on your CV is leave that time unaccounted for!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are 3 reasons why you should never leave a gap:
People wonder what you’re hiding:
People, more often that not, think the worst. The moment you allow (or force) a person reading your CV to wonder what you were up to from one date to another, they are likely to assume the worst. Was the person in jail? Where they up to something else they can’t put on their CV? These are not thoughts you want a potential employer to think before they’ve even decided to invite you in for an interview.
People wonder if you’re lazy:
It’s easy for people to imagine an unmotivated or lazy person sleeping in late, watching day-time television and generally doing nothing useful. People start to question your work ethic and that is never a good place to start when being considered for an interview. No matter how good you look on paper, nobody wants to carry dead-weight.
People wonder if you’re employable:
The train of thought might go something like – If he or she hasn’t managed to land a job after all this time then maybe there is something wrong with them?. They start to wonder if you’re good enough for the role as nobody else seems to think so. If they don’t jump to point 2 above, they might assume you’ve been looking the whole time but just haven’t found anyone willing to hire you. Hiring staff can be very risky and nobody wants to stick their neck out if it looks like everyone else has passed.
All this is avoidable by taking a few simple steps. Whatever the reason for your CV gap it probably isn’t as bad as the 3 mentioned above or the other things people can imagine. You should add a line in your work history stating the dates of the gap, and an explanation. Some times people decide to take time off because they are adventurous and feel life is too short. That is not a crime. In fact, in some instances it is seen as a good trait. You may have decided you need to skill-up to become more valuable in your sector. By simply saying what you were doing, you change the conversation from “I wonder…”, to “I’ll need to ask about this during the interview.” The latter is a much better place to be. If you prepare your answer well beforehand, it might even turn into an advantage.
So if you don’t take anything from this, please take the fact that any explanation is better than none.