Career 101: Why A Gap In Your CV Isn't A Bad Thing
Fact number one: there are jobs out there.
Fact number two: it's never been a more competitive time to get one.
Employers today want a lot from their prospective employees. A lot of experience, a knowledge of industry trends, a pro-active personality and a whole list of other things. Each time you show your strengths on your covering letter or in an interview, another box is ticked.
But what happens when they get to your CV and they see a gap?
This isn't uncommon. I know people that have been worried about job interviews due to the fact they know they'll have to explain a gap in their employment. What these people (and you) may not realise is that this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Some gaps are easier to explain than others. But if you go about it in the right way, you can use a break to your advantage. Here's how...
It isn't a bad thing if you can explain it
Picture the scene: you're in a job interview when the inevitable question is asked: why is there a gap on your CV? Your palms start to sweat, your face goes red and all you can seem to say is, 'ummm...'
If you're prepared for this question, it will be a lot easier to answer. Sometimes, a career break can't be helped due to an illness or redundancy. Other times, they're optional - you could have taken six months out to go travelling, or you might feel overwhelmed with all the choices, so you want time to work on your own creative projects. Whatever your situation is, it isn't anything to worry about if you can explain it. You don't have to go into all the little details. But usually, honesty works best.
If you've got a gap on your CV, it's 99% likely you'll be asked about it in an interview. So you have the chance to prepare a short and sweet answer to take with you everywhere. If you prepare, you won't be caught off guard.
Explaining a career gap to someone doesn't have to be a bad thing. Think about it this way - say you took 6 months off to work on your blog. How much will you have learnt in that time? How much will you have built up your audience and brand in those 6 months? How much will you have to tell potential employers about everything you did in that time?
Acknowledging and explaining a gap in your career won't be the reason why you don't get a job.
It isn't a bad thing if you were pro-active
Something I've seen on almost every job application I've looked at is the phrase, "be pro-active". It's a skill that seems to be essential for any job. If you're pro-active during your career break, it means it was intentional.
Whether you take on voluntary work, do a course, or take time to build on your skills and grow your online presence, be pro-active and purposeful with your time. If you made the decision yourself to have a career break, then great. But if you were forced into it, either through illness or because of redundancy, you can still decide to use this unplanned break in a pro-active way.
You don't have to rush. Money and experience? It doesn't matter if you're not happy. I rushed into my career choices - so much so that my first three jobs were the wrong choices. One was too long of a commute, one company treated me unfairly, and the other just wasn't a good fit. It wasn't until the job I'm now in came along, that wasn't a rushed decision, where everything worked out.
If you're on a career break for whatever reason, take your time to do something pro-active. You never know - the gap might have happened for a reason. It did for me.
It isn't a bad thing if it has benefited you in a positive way
Positivity can go a hell of a long way. If you can say that being made redundant from your last role gave you time to decide what you really wanted and made you grow as a person - employers will really appreciate that.
A positive attitude reflects out of everything. Your CV, covering letter, and when you speak in your interview. Even if your gap wasn't a positive experience, turn it into one. Search for the good parts. Has it made you realise what you want? Has it made you appreciate yourself more? Has it made you appreciate your career more? If you can take things away from the situation and turn them into a positive, you'll definitely tick another box.
It's not unusual to have a gap during your career. What will separate you from others in a good way is having the confidence to explain it. If you approach the situation prepared, with honesty and positivity, you'll have nothing to worry about. Your personality will shine.
Have you ever had to explain a gap in your career? Do you feel more positive about it now? Let me know your thoughts on this topic in the comments