Is your CV a mess? Is it full of holes?

by | 08.12.22

Does your CV look a mess? Is it very bitty? Do you have big gaps in your employment? Unfortunately a messy CV is not going to get you interviews and could leave you unemployed for some time. The biggest issue employers have is gaps in employment and these can be difficult to explain. Here are a few effective methods you can use to make it easier:

Gaps need to be explained

First of all you need to explain gaps in your employment and it’s really important that you know what reasons are okay to share and which ones you should tell a white fit about or not share at all. You then need to be upfront and comfortable when giving your explanation.

What reasons can you share to cover gaps

Some reasons are really acceptable for instance caring for a sick family member, a medical or health issue, travelling or studying to improve qualifications. If any of these reasons apply to you don’t be afraid to put the period of time and the reason you were off on your CV. This is much more palatable to a prospective employer than a big hole where you appeared to do nothing.

If you have relocated put this on your CV

If you have relocated either into the area from another part of the UK or from overseas this is an acceptable reason not to have worked for a time. A reasonable employer will understand that if you are new to the area it will take you some time to settle before you start looking for a job, so make sure if you are in this position you explain the gap.

Gaps that are difficult to explain

An employer will not look on you favourably if you put down the fact you were unemployed on your CV. Also excuses like “I didn’t like any of the jobs I was offered”, or “I’ve had trouble finding a job” don’t go down well with prospective employers”, you will look like a loser. It is better just saying that during this period you were looking for the right job in which to continue your career. This makes you look more positive.

You have had your own business – how do you explain this?

Having your own business is going to frighten the majority of employers away. They will think you are only looking for a job because your business is not doing well or has failed and you will be off at the first opportunity to rebuild your business or start another. Put your business on your CV as if you were an employee not the owner you can discuss this at the interview and convince the employer of your sincerity to settle into a paid position.

Turn negative gaps into positive experiences

In an interview situation you need to explain the gap further and reassure the employer. For instance if you have been travelling explain how you have developed and matured because of this experience. Turn a negative gap into a positive in the employers eyes if possible. This is easier than you think it’s just a case of explaining the benefit of the gap and how the period of time has equipped you into being a much better prospective employee.

Be an in-demand job candidate in an interview

If you are explaining a current gap in your employment, you need to sound like you’re being selective and you are focused on making sure you obtain the right job in which you can settle long term, rather than accept the first job you have been offered. Everyone wants something no-one else can have and by saying this you are making yourself a very valuable commodity.

Be upfront and honest if possible about gaps

Gaps in employment do happen and the good thing is most employers realise this. If you have managed to get an interview there is obviously something they liked about your CV. So when it comes to explaining gaps in your employment it is best to be as honest and upfront as possible. If you haven’t been offered any jobs since you left your last role, a little white fib like I haven’t found the right job yet is acceptable. If you didn’t need to work because you got a large redundancy pay-out, a good thing to say is that you were in your last role for so many years, you took the opportunity to have a short break from the work place in order to complete long term dreams you didn’t have time for when you were working. An employer will appreciate these explanations.

When to fib about a gap

It is not a good idea to say you couldn’t find a job, you didn’t need to work or you needed a rest. None of these reasons will inspire a prospective employer, a little white fib is needed in this instance. A good idea is to make the gap your choice ie: “during this period I chose to take a break from the workplace to pursue personal interests”. This way you don’t look like a loser or a lazy individual.

When a definite fib is needed about a gap

If you have started your own business and it has failed this is really difficult to explain, no-one wants someone who has been unsuccessful. In this instance it is a good idea to just say you didn’t like working on your own and prefer to be in a team environment. This is a fib for sure but lets be honest most people prefer to be with others and getting a regular pay cheque at the end of the week, there is nothing wrong with this.

You probably won’t lose out on a job if you explain gaps in your employment positively, you definitely will lose out if you look like you are trying to cover something up or you look like you were not just motivated enough to get a job and are only looking now because you have run of money or are being pushed by your parents, partner or the Job Centre.

Good job hunting!


Angela Burton