CV gaps aren’t new, but after another year of upheaval, many people have experienced big changes to their careers they didn’t expect. So, how should you handle these when applying for jobs?
As a recruiter, we're on the front line of the recruitment industry, speaking with candidates and clients every day. One big talent trend we’re seeing is that career gaps are becoming less of an issue for employers in the wake of the pandemic. However, it can still be a daunting task to explain yourself, so there are a few tips that can help when thinking about how you handle them.
Be honest: you can keep your reason for a break short and sweet if you like, but don’t lie about it.
Take the opportunity to talk about transferable skills, whether gained through a course, a completely different role, or activities in your personal life.
Try not to let unexpected changes hit your confidence – lots of people have experienced upheaval, and employers appreciate resilience.
However, the long-held stigma over career gaps that have discouraged people from applying for jobs is now a thing of the past. A lot of us were forced to stop working for others and work instead on our own health and safety, it is now expected that most may have a gap in their work. Recent reports indicate that hiring increased a mere 3.5% from March to April 2020, whereas it increased a whopping 69% from March to April 2021.
It’s understandable and almost expected that we will have these gaps, but it’s what you’ve done during your time away from work that’s crucial: what new skills did you learn or what certificates did you gain? Did you take time for your own mental health, did you put your energy into caring for others? It’s how you took the time to be creative, innovative, resilient or patient that is important, gaining new skills which help you stand out above the candidate crowd. For many, this has provided a new opportunity for a change in life choices and career paths.
Honesty truly is key
Take the initiative; utilise transferrable skills and behaviours
Top tip: To prevent your CV from being penalised by automated CV filtering systems, present your career gap as a project or role with dates.
Showcase resilience through self-care
Explain how you visualised where you expected to be next year, how you set daily or weekly personal goals to keep focused and rewarded yourself in small, meaningful ways when you meet these goals. Explain how proactive you were, keeping a focus on maintaining a level of resilience, by prioritising your mental health, staying healthy and well. With the increased focus on mental health and work- life balance, it is often considered a good idea to seek some time off the working career.
Many people across the talent landscape will have Covid shaped gaps in their CV, and we’re working hard to educate employers on the benefits of considering applicants who have gaps in their employment. Remember, you don't have to justify a covid gap just use it as an opportunity to demonstrate you had the time to rediscover, reinvent and grow as a person. Just as Thanos’ snap altered the course of the Marvel cinematic world, the pandemic more dramatically altered the course of ours. But Spiderman wasn’t frowned upon for his absence, so why should you be?