Job interview technique | Unemployment / career breaks / CV gaps

It is highly likely that some time in your working life you will go through a period where you will not be working. This could be for a variety of reasons such as education, family, leisure or redundancy. As a result you will have a gap in your CV or resume that may lead to questions at a job interview.

Employers are often keen to find out why you have a gap in your CV and what you were doing at the time. There are a number of reasons for this. For one they be suspicious that you have excluded a previous job on the CV in order to hide a from them a time when you were fired or worse did something illegal.

The second reason they will want to talk about a long absence is because employee skills tend to deteriorate rapidly when they are not in work. Therefore the interviewer will want to know that you did not lose your skills and managed to keep active at times of worklessness.

When it comes to writing your CV you should be aware of the timing gaps that exist on the CV and therefore you should be aware that questions may be asked about these times. Make sure you have an explanation for any significant gaps in your CV. Do not miss out jobs from your CV because you were fired or didn't enjoy the work, keep it on the CV. If you omit it from your CV you are likely to raise more questions and if found out you will be highly unlikely to get the job.

In the interview process when asked about the time off you should stress that you used the time productively and maintained skills whilst away.

If you spent the time away studying then make it clear how the studies relate to the job you are interviewing for and how it helped you to improve as an effective employee.

Make sure they know...

You haven't lost your skills

You have kept up with industry developments

You didn't waste your time

You are ready to be back at work

If you spent the time having a family, traveling or as a break from work make it clear that you did not lose contact with what was going on in the industry you are interviewing for. If you did any projects or activities whilst on the break from work highlight these as signs that you have been active and using skills such as organisational skills.

If you were made redundant from your past job the interviewer may like to ask why you were made redundant. If your company was generally downsizing the number of staff because of tough market conditions then this explanation will be fine. However, if you were the only person made redundant or you were fired in good economic times then you will have to think about a better way of explaining why you left the company. Its worth being relatively honest here because they can always check details with your previous employer, however, there is no need to be brutally honest.

Again it will be worth highlighting that you have tried to maintain you skills and knowledge of the industry whilst you have been out of work. Mention that you have been reading certain industry publications or web sites, that you have maintained contacts with people you know in the industry, mention projects you have been involved in and any voluntary work you undertook to keep busy throughout unemployment.

 

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