Is it OK to have a gap in your CV?

CV Career gap Ellis Fox Blog

It used to be frowned upon to have any lengthy gaps between jobs. Assumptions were made that if you weren’t employed you were unemployable or even lazy – both very negative connotations. As a result, people felt embarrassed to have to explain any gap.

To add to this, traditionally many women found it hard returning to the workplace after taking time off to start a family. They were met with perspectives that they’d stagnated and been out of touch with the corporate world, distracted by family responsibilities.

A new way of working

But perspectives are changing. The great resignation has highlighted issues such as burnout, work life balance and personal development. Empathetic employers are recognising that a break can be a good thing, and for some is very much needed. Work is not the only place to learn and gain experience.

Younger generations aren’t shy to try different careers, take time off to travel and explore, even working seasonal jobs. With remote work, there is a growing trend where families travel for extended periods of time with parents working remotely when they need to and children homeschooling, all while exploring different destinations.  This may not strictly be defined as a career gap but it highlights how the way people work is changing.

How to explain gaps on a CV

When it comes to CV’s, honesty is always the best policy. Gaps that exist because of family responsibility – ie caring for an elderly relative, raising a family or dealing with chronic illness, aren’t anything to be embarrassed about. By contrast they show empathy, responsibility and a willingness to prioritise the needs of others – all strong personal characteristics.

If the gap exists because you were retrenched suddenly and it took time to find a new role, simply state the truth. It’s likely that as part of the process, you used the time to reflect on what the next step should be for your career. This may have involved joining industry communities, reaching out to your LinkedIn network, even exploring ways to build your personal brand.

All of that would have resulted in learning so it shouldn’t just be written off as part of the job hunting process. In your CV, leverage the experience to highlight what you learnt during the gap. This will demonstrate that you were proactive about progressing in your career.