Gaps in your CV
Gaps in your CV can quickly appear: long periods of unemployment between jobs, a break from your studies, maternity leave, illness, caring for a relative, a divorce – gaps in your CV are normal. But if you know how to deal with it, you will do better in job interviews.
What are CV gaps?
A gap in your CV occurs when you have not been employed for more than two months. You did not study during this period and did not do any further training or internships. Gaps of less than one to two months are not a problem. You should justify longer periods of time when applying.
Gaps are not a reason for exclusion, but human.
However, it is important to use the correct wording. You should therefore definitely be prepared for your future boss to be interested in what you did during this time. The key is to sell the interview blanks properly by filling them in with credible facts. Prepare well for the interview with the most common interview questions. Especially if you have changed your job frequently and are considered a job hopper, you should think about answers to the most frequently asked questions in advance.
Correctly justify gaps in your CV + examples
A gap in your CV has nothing to do with incompetence or even laziness. Was your temporary professional break used for further training? Then a gap in your CV can also give you advantages. What seems like a gap can also be classified as a reorientation.
For some gaps in your CV, however, you do not decide yourself and they may occur through no fault of your own. Illnesses or crises can be the cause of such a gap in your CV. However the career break came about, each justification requires a slightly different approach in the interview.
Termination can happen for many reasons: Bankruptcy, downsizing, lack of motivation, unpleasant working atmosphere, the desire for new challenges, dissatisfaction at work.
So it can be through no fault of your own or through your own fault.
Tip: Whatever the reason for termination of employment, stick to the facts.
You can’t do anything about restructuring. However, blaming your choleric boss or the bullying colleague does not go down well in the interview.
Not everyone has the prospect of a new job immediately after the end of another. We often feel drained after a job and need a break to get motivated again. Once a new job has been found, things may not go smoothly. Sometimes it just doesn’t fit and it’s not long before you’re dismissed during the probationary period. The search continues. However, unemployment does not have to be kept secret.
Tip: Just describe what you did during this time to find a job.
You weren’t idle, you applied diligently. It is always well received when you do something useful in the difficult application circumstances and continue your professional education. That shows motivation and determination. With a perfect cover letter, your job chances are more than good.
Career start: Studies, training and high school diploma
In particular, job starters and university graduates in certain fields of study without relevant work experience have a hard time on the job market. You often spend several months looking for the right job. This search can be frustrating. But don’t worry, recruiters know that!
Tip: Why don’t you just bridge this time with an internship or further training that qualifies you? In the interview, you can then argue that you used the search time efficiently to gain work experience and stay on the ball.
More and more young people between 20 and 30 are also deciding to do a social year or take a break after completing school or university. Not everyone wants to start work immediately. Some people don’t even know where to go professionally. So-called “gap years”, “work and travel” programs, au pair stays or working on social projects at home and abroad are valuable experiences. However, the sabbatical, or simply taking a break to travel, is also becoming increasingly popular with older workers.
Tip: Stays abroad are additional qualifications. In this case, you can say openly and honestly at the interview that you went abroad for professional orientation. If you have already worked beforehand, simply stating “sabbatical” or “travel abroad” is sufficient.
Parental leave should also be shown in your CV. When starting a family, it is usually the woman who takes a break from working life for a while to take care of the children. Although there is parental leave for men, it is not used that often. Of course, parental leave can last for several years. Returning to work is not always easy either.
Tip: Stay up to date. For example, do further training or mini-jobs so as not to completely lose touch with the world of work. This is also well received by potential employers.
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Illness and other health reasons
Unemployment, incapacity to work and health breaks due to physical or mental problems also often lead to gaps in your CV. These can often be longer than just a few months. For example, have you been in therapy for a mental illness? Did you have to go through a longer period of rehabilitation because of physical ailments? Or did you feel completely drained, lacking the energy to continue?
In these cases, returning to work is often particularly difficult. Even if you have had to care for a close relative for a longer period of time, finding a suitable position can be challenging. Basically: You don’t have to talk about private matters or illnesses in the interview. You shouldn’t even be asked about it.
Tip: If you are still looking for a suitable phrase, then try “time off for health reasons” or “caring for a relative”.
What’s about Divorce?
Divorce can also turn life upside down and lead to a professional reorientation. You don’t need to talk about your private life, the statements “divorce” or “reorientation of private life” are sufficient. Everyone will understand that this stage in life is not easy. You should avoid superfluous information in your CV.
How do you justify a very large gap in your CV?
There are indications that a gap in your CV of about two years – with good justification – does not reduce job prospects. If you have a large gap in your CV and feel like you haven’t actually done anything during this time, you should try to present this time as personal development and not as remaining passive in a situation. After all, no potential employer would want to hear that you’ve wasted your time.
Talk about your further training, your social commitment or perhaps about trying to set up a company yourself and having failed. It’s much better for your job prospects if you honestly admit your failure in such a case, because that’s how you show that you have the courage to try new things! And every employer is happy to have such committed and courageous employees.
What happens if you lie on your resume?
No matter how you explain a smaller or larger gap in your CV, avoid lying in your CV! Never forget that an honest answer goes down better with the interviewer than a made-up one. You don’t have to hide, conceal or even lie about anything. And beware: If you get a job through a lie, the joy will probably be short-lived, because false information in your CV is a reason for termination, even after receiving a job offer.