This is a question that gets asked a lot, so I wanted to give a recruiters’ perspective on how you should approach this issue.
Before we start. If you’re currently in your ‘gap’ and it’s related to the pandemic – then please, don’t worry. Employers are fully aware of the situation and know that it’s a tough time to be looking right now. People will be empathetic to these circumstances. If businesses do decide to hold this against you though, then you can only imagine the type of culture they have internally.
I just wanted to make that clear before I jump into the rest of my thoughts.
So, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to this question. It’s contingent on a number of aspects. How long is the gap? When was the gap? What was the reason for the gap? What were you doing during the gap? And the list goes on.
If you want a quick and easy answer though. My general rule of thumb is to proactively address gaps on your CV.
Put it this way; when a recruiter has dozens of CVs to review, they can’t speak to everyone. Don’t give them an excuse to discount your profile. Don’t let them come to their own conclusions as to why there is a gap on your CV.
If you took a break after 10 years of straight work, then say this (sounds well-deserved to me). If you took time out to travel, say this (and say where you went, I always find this interesting). If you took a break to learn a new skill, say this. It’s all relevant and provides a valid reason as to why you were off – and, doesn’t allow the recruiters’ imagination to run away from them.
Having said that, don’t go overshare and don’t go overboard. At they end of the day, it’s your life and you don’t need to explain anything – to anyone. I’ve seen CVs that detail every little gap, even the ones from 5+ years ago and the reasons for leaving each role. This is unnecessary, and to be honest, takes up valuable real-estate on your CV.
It’s very rare that I’ve spoken to a candidate that has genuinely done nothing for an extended period of time. So, a good idea is to give some high-level details of what you were doing during this period. You never know what may resonate with a recruiter or hiring manager, so give them something to work with. I am someone who took a career-break to travel around Australia and Asia. So, anytime I see a candidate who’s done something similar, I love talking to them about it.
I’ve also seen advice out there that says to use years instead of months when detailing how long you spent in each role. The idea here, is to essentially hide the gaps on your CV by being purposely vague. Please don’t do this. When a hiring manager or recruiter sees this, the instant reaction is to think, what is this person trying to hide?
Going back to my earlier point. Don’t give people the opportunity to come to their own conclusions. Be proactive, and on the front foot.
One thing I absolutely must emphasise though. If you took time out to start a business or pursue your entrepreneurial interests. Put it on your CV!
The amount of times I’ve spoken to someone and this amazing story comes up. You had a product. You built a website. You built a following. You made sales. But it’s nowhere to be seen on your CV! Do you know how valuable these skills are?
The response I usually get is something along the lines of, “well, it didn’t really work out and it’s not relevant to what your company does” or, “if I put it on my CV the company may think I’m a flight-risk.”
Whether it worked out or not, these skills are exactly what businesses are crying out for. They want people who have this entrepreneurial flair and who can bring it into their business.
And, with Millennials and Gen Zers changing jobs much more frequently than our previous generations – quite frankly, everyone’s a flight risk! Businesses shouldn’t still have this archaic mindset.
Lastly, as I’ve had these questions before, I think it’s prudent to address here. If you’ve been on furlough or maternity/paternity leave etc. during a role, please do not put this on your CV.
I hope this helps, when writing your CV. If there’s anything I’ve missed feel free to reach out and ask about your specific situation.
Then again, you could be gunning for this job and then I’m sure any gaps on your CV would be irrelevant.
Thoughts, questions and feedback welcome.