How to cover recruitment gaps on your CV

Whether through choice or circumstance, a long career will inevitably lead to some employment holes that can be difficult to justify to sceptical employers.

Life has a habit of occasionally derailing career progression with long-term employment often only being possible at the whim of family, health and the economy. If you're not sure how to approach these absences when applying for a job, then read our tips on how to cover recruitment gaps on your CV. 

Be prepared for questioning

If you've managed to get to the interview stage of the process.congratulations! Your initial employment gap fears were unfounded and the larger deterrent on your CV was more apt to be that BTEC failing from college. You're not quite in the clear yet though as your daily grind absence is still open to interrogation, so it's best to prepare a justifiable response should the subject arise.
The key here is to be as honest as possible and resist the urge to spin a web of lies that will a) unravel spectacularly before your eyes and b) raise an alarm in the head of the employer. What you're trying to do is make these gaps seem as tiny and insignificant as possible, so refrain from mass detail or implausible exaggeration. 

Use your time more effectively

The sand in the unemployment hour glass seems to run faster than normal and weeks out of work can quickly turn into months or even years. If you're approaching the anniversary of the latter, then you should start to consider using your time more effectively. Such a large period of inactivity can raise serious questions in the mind of the employer that will undoubtedly need some addressing if you want to land the job. 

Volunteering or re-training is a great way of making productive use of your time and easing the concerns of hesitant hirers. Candidates who are able to add another string to their bow whilst out of work will not only strengthen their CV, but also appear more attractive than those who refuse to remove the cursor from the job board scroll bar.  

Refer to it in your cover letter 

The cover letter is often an overlooked and underutilised aspect of the job hunt process but it's increasingly becoming the 'make or break' document as employers display symptoms of CV blindness. Grades, dates and job titles don't leave much room for explanation so it's wise to take advantage of the conventionally less structured cover letter to make some clarifications. 

Being able to show employers that you're aware of the holes in your CV (and being able to justify them) will appease any doubts and will probably lead them to breeze over these gaps when they eventually come round to reading your resume. It also means that you're less likely to be quizzed about your long period of unemployment should you find yourself in the interview hot seat (which is one less thing to worry about!).

Omit irrelevant jobs

Long time readers of our career advice will know that failing to tailor your CV for a job posting is a major candidate faux pas and one of the leading reasons why applicants remain on the shelf. The adaptation of your CV doesn't stop at keywords and skills though, as referring only to job appropriate titles from your history can result in a more relevant resume that manages to hide any prolonged employment gaps. 

Transferable skills means that it can be difficult to determine what is or isn't considered a relevant job from your past, but if your CV reads like a Mr Benn series synopsis, then it's time to make some cuts. Omitting irrelevant roles from your list of previous employment will clearly highlight what makes you suitable for the position whilst making any large gaps in dates redundant.  

The majority of us will find ourselves out of work at one time or another but this doesn't have to prove detrimental to any future job prospects. A significant void in your job history can be difficult to overcome, but hopefully our handy tips above will help you cover the recruitment gaps on your CV and enable you to add a new employer to the list.  

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