How to address a career break on your CV

Career break

Contemplating a career break?

How to address a career break on your CV

Being out of work for a while comes with the dilemma of how to address this break on your CV. You’ll probably receive varying advice about this but the truth of the matter is, it depends entirely on how long the break was for and whether you are going back to a similar role or looking for a career change.

Length of the break

If the break was short, it may be that you don’t need to give a reason for it at all. The rule of thumb is that breaks of 3 months or less, don’t need to be explained. Anything longer and you might want to think about other experiences that you can use to bridge a gap. Think about voluntary work you can draw on, projects or studying you undertook whilst on a career break.

Breaks from earlier in your career

Breaks from long ago in your career will be less significant and it’s also perfectly acceptable to scale back some detail if your gaps go way back. Roles from a long time ago can be amalgamated if they don’t need to be explained in depth, meaning dates can be removed. For example, ‘A variety of Customer Service positions held between 2011- 2013’.

Longer breaks

For gaps that are long enough to need explaining such as long-term sickness, caring for a family member or travelling, there are ways to put a positive spin on things. For example, instead of saying that, ‘a recurring health problem caused me to leave my previous employment’ say, ‘due to a health problem, I felt unable to continue in my role but I have now returned to full health and am looking forward to a new challenge’.

CV restructure

Long career breaks or a break prior to looking at a career change may benefit from a CV restructure. A skills based CV is a wonderful way to grab an employer’s attention by highlighting all the skills you have that are relevant to the job before presenting your career history. You can demonstrate matching a person specification if your previous employment is very different to what you’re applying for and draw on examples from other areas of your life. It is also a fantastic way of not drawing attention to gaps in employment. By the time an employer gets to that part of your CV hopefully they will already be convinced by your talents.

Please remember

It is inevitable that some of us will have gaps in our employment, so don’t get too stressed about it. The most important thing to remember is that employers are looking for someone who is enthusiastic, qualified and skilled. Making sure your CV is tailored to the role you’re applying for is key. A CV is your ticket to an interview so it needs to be concise, well written, free from any grammatical errors and most importantly, relevant. Get that right and a career break won’t be held against you.

By Nikki Vivian

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