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I Have a Gap on my CV: How Bad is it?

Cristiano Paolini

Many people give a lot of credit on first impressions and strive to give the right image of themselves when meeting someone new. It may sound superficial, but this idea has some psychological background. Who doesn't want to start on the right foot?

For job seekers, the same concept applies.

We want to stand out from the competition and give a great first impression. But before being invited for a face to face interview (either physically or, as it mostly happens nowadays, with a video call), it's our CV and motivational letter the tools we can use to give a great first impression of our personality, skills and motivations.

There are a lot of ways we can make our CVs look better, but something hard to cope with is gaps in our employment history.

Many people are seriously concerned about how their CV will look like and what recruiters will think about that gap of months, or even years, between one job experience and the following one. But what we can do about it, apart from cheating on the CV? And no, this is never a good idea!

First of all, let's think about what the goal of a CV is.

A well-written CV is not the magic tool that will give you the job you are dreaming about: what a good, bulletproof CV will usually provide is the chance to grab the attention of a recruiter and be invited to a first phone or video interview. Yes, it's common sense; nonetheless, it's important to keep it in mind: your CV should grab the interest of a recruiter (or of an ATS software) that will want to know more about you. And if your CV is good and your skills match what the company is looking for, these gaps in your career path will probably become a topic in your first interview with the recruiter.

So, there is already good news here: you are dealing with gaps in your CV because you have been contacted by a recruiter, and this means your profile caught someone's attention. That is great, and now you have the chance to present yourself more in-depth than how you could on paper.

Let's go back to our interview: the recruiter could ask you to guide him/her through your CV. And eventually, the question arrives: "I can see that there is a gap between experience A and experience B. Could you please tell me more about it?".

There is no right or wrong answer here:

  • The key is explaining the motivation behind the gap and how you reacted to this situation.

  • A gap in the CV, just like many short experiences in the CV, might raise a red flag from an HR perspective just if they are perceived as signals of someone's attitude to job-hopping or potential misconduct in the workplace.

  • It is advisable to provide a calm, detailed answer to explain to the recruiter that chapter of your story.

  • Some recruiters might also want to see, through this uncomfortable question, how well you can deal with stressful situations.

So better to be prepared and show some confidence.

As a bonus point - make sure to highlight what you have done during that period.

Maybe you had to take care of someone in need among your friends or family; maybe you have studied new things or dedicated more time to your side project. No matter what, this will show that you have been proactively using this time to sharpen your skills and personality even more.

As they say, 'A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor'. It's not a gap on the CV that will stop you from reaching your dream job: so sit back, relax and try to transform a not-so-positive period of your life into an inspiring story to tell!

Photos taken from Pexel.


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