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How to Explain Gaps in Your CV to an Employer

20th January 2022

There’s a common misconception that if you reveal any gaps in your CV, your job application is automatically dismissed. Sarah-Jane McQueen from CoursesOnline explains why not only is this not the case but also how career gaps can often work in your favour.

People often worry that it will make them come across as unmotivated or lazy and that someone who has no gaps in their CV is sure to nab their dream job simply because they decided to take some time out of the working world. In reality, however, honesty is the best policy, as most employers (or at least those who you want to work for) will understand that there’s a lot of nuance as to why somebody might not go straight from one job to another, or from studying straight into employment. Furthermore, more people than you think will have gaps in their CV for a variety of reasons. 

When explaining the gaps in your CV, however, there is a certain method to ensure your employers won’t be left with unanswered questions: 

  1. List years instead of months – if your gap was a long time ago and only of a few months, it likely is not relevant 

  2. When you explain gaps, keep it brief and relevant  

  3. Be honest
  • Make clear how and why the situation ended, and you will not need to take recurring breaks 

  • Restate the positives – how and why you would be a good fit for the role 

Most Common Reasons to Have CV Gaps

Below are some of the most common reasons to have a gap in your CV. As you will see, these reasons can actually work in your favour and shine a positive light on your work ethic. 

Mental Health Breaks:

A good example of this could be if you’ve decided to take a mental health break sometime in the past. Rather than this counting against you, it shows a potential employer that you are someone who takes all aspects of wellbeing seriously and chances are that you’ll be receptive to the needs of colleagues if they have any concerns in the future.


You might be in a situation where you’ve recently finished your studies and want to see more of the world before committing yourself to the world of work. Travelling in between university and employment is something that many people do and highlights to an employer that you’re somebody who wants to see and experience all sorts of new things which might be outside of your usual comfort zone. In a workplace environment, having people who are willing to push themselves and experiment with new ways of doing things is very useful in terms of innovation.

Deciding your Next Steps:

Often the pressure to keep studying or working straight away can lead to us not having the time to think about what we really want to do. There is no shame in taking some time out to try different things, see what you really enjoy doing and deciding what your next steps are going to be. Perhaps you explored hobbies, tried starting your own business, spoke to family members or simply took a few months off to think about career and further study options. If this is the case for you then it is far from a strike against you, and in fact demonstrates that you are taking your career seriously and have had the courage to find what you really want to do.

Caring for a Loved One:

Many people take a break from work or studies to care for an ill loved one. This is unavoidable and employers will understand that you need to put your loved one first and care for them during their time of need. It also demonstrates empathy, a caring nature and an ability to prioritise. 

Unable to Find a Job:

The job market is always changing and being able to find a job can be incredibly difficult. Sometimes it takes a while to be able to find a job, and employers understand this. Especially if you are working in a niche area or are looking for a job which is the right fit for you. This shows that you will not settle for anything and are passionate about your career. 

Whatever your situation is, there is no reason to be ashamed or worried about having to explain the gaps in your CV. As long as you are honest, brief and confident when explaining why these gaps have occurred then it can actually work in your favour.

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