Haven’t worked in a while? How to handle that on your CV.

Are you looking to return to work after a long break? Perhaps you took some time off to raise your children, deal with a personal issue, or travel. Now you want to jump back into the workforce but you need an updated CV to do so… and there’s a big blank that needs filling. Here’s our advice.

Hire MeWhile potential employers may view a gap on your CV as a negative, it doesn’t have to be this way. The trick is to explain it rather than ignore it or, worse, try and hide it. There are many legitimate reasons for a gap and, as long as you didn’t simply waste your time outside of the job market, you should be confident in providing an explanation.

And this goes beyond the cover letter – you can describe why you took time off there (and ideally link it to the specifics of the position you are applying for) but it’s a good idea to handle it in your CV as well as that document may be looked at separately from any specific cover letter.

Here are three top reasons for not having worked in a while and how to handle them in your CV:

  • Raising a family. Many people, especially women, take a long break (even for a number of years) when they are caring for young children. This is a lifestyle choice and it’s important to be upfront about this decision. Indicate that you invested your time and skills in providing a home life for your family and that you are now ready to get back to the working world. It’s also a good idea to show that your skills, experience, and education are relevant to today’s job market. If necessary, indicate how you have kept up to speed with your industry and any new qualifications or volunteer experience you may have gained during your time out of mainstream employment
  • Personal issues. At certain points in your life, you may be required to stop working to deal with a personal issue such as caring for ailing parents, looking after a sick child, or tackling your own health or financial issues. Whatever the reason keep the explanation simple and direct – avoid narrating a long drama about why you were unable to work and keep the details basic and relevant. State that the issues were of a personal nature, necessitating time off, and that they are now fully resolved, leaving you free to focus on your career.
  • An absence brought on by retrenchment. Unemployment as a result of retrenchment can be a difficult experience, affecting both your reputation and your confidence levels. However, it does not mean that your skills or qualifications are no longer valuable or sought after by other organisations. State the reason for the retrenchment – for example, your previous organisation underwent a large-scale retrenchment process, or you were the last one in, or your department’s needs changed and you were no longer the right fit etc. Also point out that you have been looking for employment since that time or after a suitable period to regroup. It’s important to show a proactive approach to this situation – make it about the retrenchment, not about you.

While not working for a while won’t immediately make a potential employer reject your CV, it might give them pause. So, it’s important to tackle the issue upfront and ensure that any gaps in your work experience don’t dominate your CV. As expert recruiters, at Lee Botti, we work to place professional staff in the most suitable roles. Talk to us – from helping you put together an up-to-date and relevant CV, to a comprehensive job search, to helping you ace your next job interview, we can help!