Gaps in your CV needn’t affect your career

Sometimes we feel it’s necessary to paper over a part of our career we’d rather not talk about or exaggerate achievements or responsibilities. Be warned. Many employers see hundreds of CVs and can easily spot an inconsistency or something to make them suspicious. These are the some of the most common areas of concern for candidates:

The fast riser

If you’ve risen fast through the ranks earning promotions quickly, you may be perceived as having been unfairly favoured at some point or being so ruthlessly ambitious that you cannot work within a team. It’s important to say that you worked in a meritocracy and earned your promotions through achievements and by working as part of a team.

The job hopper

If you’ve had a number of jobs in a short space of time, you may well be seen as someone who cannot adapt or work with people. Try and turn this to your advantage and highlight the different skills and experience you’ve gained from each job. Emphasise that now you are looking to settle and bring your experience and knowledge to a new employer.

Made redundant or fired?

It may seem unfair, but some employers often see redundancy negatively and think that you may have been incompetent in your role. You will need to clearly explain the reason for the redundancy, such as a merger, loss of business or department restructuring. When you explain what happened be sure to make eye contact with the interviewer.

The slow developer

Maybe you’ve been doing the same job for several years without any real career progression.
This could be seen as indicative of a lack of ambition. That’s why it’s important to show that you have plenty to offer in terms of skills and experience and that your lack of growth is due to circumstances beyond your control or through personal choice.

The career switcher

Maybe you were a Health Club personal trainer before moving into marketing; or perhaps ran a restaurant before deciding that a career in Procurement was more attractive. The skills you developed in your previous roles can often be transferred to your new career. Many employers have in-house training programmes anyway, which will allow you to adjust. Don’t worry; they may well overlook your lack of experience and be more interested in your attitude and determination to make a new start.
Want more advice on what to write and what to leave out? Check out more of Michael Page’s articles on cover letters and CVs.