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Mind the gap – presenting gaps in employment on your CV


The function of your CV is to make a fantastic first impression and help you secure a role. Therefore, it’s vital that your document is well presented and formatted and is showing the very best side of you – highlighting your skills and what you can add to the company.


Often, an employer would look for a flowing story of your employment, education and experiences and wherever possible you should avoid having gaps in your employment.

Typical reasons for employment gaps include, and more:

  • Maternity leave
  • Travel
  • Study/work break
  • Being dismissed from a role/made redundant and the associated psychological and personal issues of getting back into employment
  • Change of career path
  • Health issues

A gap in your history needs to acknowledged, if not through your CV, then cover letter or application form. Please remember that a gap in your employment is not a gap if you’re studying.

How to present gaps – a guide

Now that you’ve decided on that perfect job of Fortune Cookie Writer, you need to make sure your CV is up to scratch, showing your best sides only and convincing your employer that you’re the one for them.  How do you explain a year out or any gap in your education/employment? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Starting a degree/course and not completing it – what do I put on the CV?

If you started a degree course and decided it was not for you – you can disclose it on your CV but you do not have to – this depends on your situation and where you’re applying. It would be advisable to try and not have any large gaps on your CV. Say you started a degree at one university and then transferred to UH – simply state each university as a separate educational entry.

  1. Date formatting

If you have a gap in employment and is only very small, consider how you state dates. Rather than giving the full date, day of the week and starting time to the second – just leave it at month and year, such as May 2015 – June 2015. That way you could have started the role on 29/05/2015 and finished on 1/06/2015 but it does look slightly more whole on your CV.

Do not lie about the length of your employment to cover up a gap as the recruiting company could call your previous employer and check the information you provided, which may be problematic for you and could mean you will not be selected.

  1. Formatting magic

Make sure your CV is strategically formatted – showing your significant achievements, education and experience early on, on the first page.  Your front page could contain:

  • Your full name and contact details – phone number and e-mail
  • Your key skills
  • Your relevant education
  • Your relevant employment/work experience if you hold any (do not forget about volunteering!)

This way the first page of your CV then states all the employer is looking for and hopefully has intrigued them enough to want to interview you. Make it your aim to engage the employer with that Page 1.

  1. Keeping busy

If you did have time away from education or work, there is a good chance you would have kept busy somehow. Whilst travelling, you could have worked, which you would state on your CV. If the gap is due to maternity leave than you would have had your hands full with raising a family. State this, whatever it may have been, so the employer sees your progress.

If you’ve done any volunteering or undertaken courses (even self-taught) – mention that on your CV as well. A volunteering position can be stated as a role if your employment is described under the sub title Work Experience. You would simply state the organisation you were volunteering with, length of your time there and your job title would be ‘Volunteer’.

Finally, if you struggle with disclosing gaps on your CV and need someone’s input – book an appointment with us through CareerHub and we will gladly advise you on your formatting and content.

Kristina Tamane is the Careers Adviser for the School of Life and Medical Sciences and the Joint Honours Programme. You’re welcome to follow her on LinkedIn or Twitter or Pinterest for varied job posts and general careers advice.

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