1. Do not anticipate the worst
In the past, employment gaps were viewed by employers as discouraging, an indicator of unreliability. However, after the recession, employers have been forced to change their perspective, resulting in career gaps ceasing to be seen as an insurmountable blot on a candidate’s CV. While it is true that stigma around employment gap remains, employers are increasingly flexible and understanding when it comes to periods of unemployment or underemployment. Currently, the UK is in the midst of a shortage of skilled candidates, so it is likely that employers will be able to overlook gaps in your CV as long as your relevant skills and experience are evident. We find that many employers adopt the same philosophy as the entrepreneur James Caan
‘Personally, I am always more interested in the abilities and characteristics of an individual- if they haven’t been in work for a while but they have the quality my company needs, I will hire them’
2. Don’t be unprepared
That being said, it is unrealistic to expect that employers will not be curious to know why you were not in work for a period of time. Do not try to lie or bluff your way through the interview. It is far better to prepare for a grilling that you answer will appear natural and honest. Remember, your ultimate goal is to convince your interviewer that you are a genuine and dependable candidate. Make sure that you are well prepared to deal with the tricky questions so that you are able to convey a positive image consistently throughout the interview.
3. Don’t assume that what you were doing wasn’t valuable
A common fear amongst candidates who have experienced gaps in their employment is that potential employers will view career gaps as a sign of irresponsibility and a lack of commitment. However, in many cases, employment gaps have been spent doing valuable unpaid work, which has enabled the candidate to expand upon their existing skillset. Perhaps you took a career break in order to bring your children up. Maybe you were travelling or took a sabbatical year in order to develop and grow as an individual. All of these activities add value to you as an individual, so you should not assume that employers will take a dim view of your career gap. Put a positive spin on your employment gap by explaining the skills and experience that you required during this period.
4. Do not automatically opt for a standard CV
Nowadays, there is no reason to choose the default chronological CV when there are other resume options which may play to your strengths better. Go for a skills-based CV in order to showcase your diverse skills and experience in a way which will downplay your career gaps. If you do this effectively enough it is possible that your interviewer may not even notice that you have experienced periods of unemployment. Here is some help and advice for building a stellar skills-based CV