Careers Job Seekers

How to explain a career gap

September 22, 2021
Amarah Ranger

Amarah Ranger

Amarah is a Recruitment Consultant in our Engineering team. She's the happiest recruiter you'll ever meet, and she specialises in recruiting engineers and support staff across the UK.

After the past 18 months, having a career gap on your CV is far more common than it might have been previously. With more vacancies on the market than ever, now’s a great time for those looking to get back into work after a break, as hiring managers can’t be as critical as they have been historically!
In reality, some employers will be more sympathetic than others to those who have had a significant period out of work. While attitudes towards career gaps are changing, you’re likely to still get faced with questions about why and what you were doing while you weren’t working.
That doesn’t mean that you can turn your career gap into a positive, though.

Here are 4 tips to help you navigate a career gap in your CV:

1. Focus on what you have done

If you’ve had a considerable career gap, t’s very unlikely that you spend the entire time watching Netflix. Whether you spent time volunteering, home-schooling, freelancing, caring for a relative or learning a new skill, use any questions about your time away from work as an opportunity to talk about how you’ve grown during your time away from work.

Getting a job after a career gap

2. Address the career gap up front

Add a succinct sentence or two in your application or covering letter to explain the break. If you were made redundant, be honest and mention what you’ve done to sharpen your skills and find a new role. Give an example of something you were proud of in your previous role. If you've been caring for a relative, talk about what you've learned, and that the situation is resolved, allowing you to return to employment.

3. Prepare your answer

It is inevitable that a question about your career gap will come up in an interview, so make sure you’ve prepared and practiced your response. Keep your answer short and to the point, and try not to use negative language – just state the facts. Confidence and honesty are both desirable qualities in an employee, so demonstrate these in the way you answer the questions.

4. Talk about the future

Your career gap was a perfect chance for you to focus on what you want to get out of your career in the long term – talk about how the company you’re interviewing for is a great fit for your goals. Research the company as part of your interview prep and make sure you’re able to talk about how the skills you’ve learned will be an asset there.

In summary:

The key is being honest and authentic. Try to avoid clichés like “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m a people person”. What employers want to hear is your enthusiasm and readiness to re-enter work – no matter what your career gap was due to.

If you need help finding a new role or preparing for a return to work, at Boden Group we can offer expert advice and find help you find a great fit for the skills you’ve cultivated.