CV gaps are a nightmare for each and every applicant. Events such as the loss of your job, an interruption of studies or downtime spent unemployed are part of life, but HR managers notice them and dig into the causes during job interviews. Gaps in your CV are not necessarily negative, but applicants should be able to plausibly explain them. In general, the following applies to holes in your CV: openness is better than lying or concealing. Nowadays, many employers focus on applicants with "rough edges" who are creative and flexible and have a so-called patchwork CV. With the following arguments and tips you can clarify the gaps in your CV and perhaps even turn them into yet another reason to hire you.
Periods of unemployment appear on even the best CVs and should not be hidden from future employers. What is important is that you describe the desired or undesired "downtime" as an active phase of looking for a job. Further education, travel, language courses, internships and job shadowing can plausibly fill gaps in your CV. When selecting the wording of your CV make sure to use active phrases such as "looking for work", "professional re-orientation", or "period of further education".
Caring for a family member
Caring for a family member demonstrates a great sense of responsibility and deserves respect. Today, most employers also see it this way. Thus, there is no reason to describe this period as a gap in your CV. Simply include the care for your loved one in your CV.
Did you indulge in a long holiday after graduation, a sabbatical year, or a trip around the world? This is no reason to worry about a gap in your CV, as many HR managers place a positive value on travelling and living abroad. However, you should also mention how important living abroad was for your professional development, e. g. in regard to language skills, intercultural competence, mobility, building an international network, etc.
You do not need to conceal health-related problems in the application process. However, you should emphasise that you have successfully overcome your illness and are ready to hit the ground running.
Nowadays, dedicating yourself to your family and taking care of your children should no longer have a negative impact on the application process. Top male managers on parental leave may still be rare, but acceptance of the fact that one must take care of his or her own offspring in a certain period of life has significantly increased in recent years. However, avoid using terms such as "baby break" or "child-raising holiday" in your application, using instead "parental leave" or "child-raising period", since mothers and fathers have a hard job and not a holiday!
Fill gaps in your CV with meaningful activities
If there is a gap in your CV that you cannot explain, you should try to fill it with meaningful activities that distinguish you as an active and diverse person. They may include the following activities, for example:
- Independent studies (IT, languages)
- Volunteer work
- Language and educational trips
- Part-time jobs
- Further education
- Course auditor at the university