Explaining blemishes on your CV

With jobs for life not existing anymore, the likelihood of having a range of employers on your CV is all the more probable. However, if you’ve had an extended break or spent a shorter-than-ideal amount of time in a job, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Here’s MRK Associates advice on approaching your CV and what to do about any “gaps.”

Let’s start with the reasons why you might have a perceived gap. Your language, when explaining these, will help you immensely:

  • Redundancy. Budget cuts are often made by employers, meaning that leaving a place of employment is not your fault. Be proud of what you have achieved, do not mention any clash of personalities (if there were any) or challenging work environment.
  • Travelling. Experiencing new cultures and experiences is a great thing to do, so explain this as a benefit to your value as a professional.
  • Sickness. Have you had a long-term illness which meant you were unable to work? As your CV is now in front of a potential hiring manager, reassure them that you are now back to full health and how you have blossomed during this time.
  • Caring for an ill family member. The importance of family can’t be underestimated. Outline why you took time out and what skills you developed – this will have a beneficial impact on your presentation, self-esteem and how you’re perceived.
  • Other family matters. In my early career a manager said to me: “When you come to work, you must leave home/personal life at the front door.” Sometimes this isn’t feasible. As with the example above, be honest with your reasoning and look for the life experiences and skills you have developed to the betterment of your career.
  • The elephant in the room. Have you left under less-than-auspicious circumstances? What’s happened in the past should stay there. Nothing can be done to change that. Be honest with the reason your contract/employment was terminated. Choose the words on your CV wisely, as when you get to the interview stage you will be expected to discuss what happened. The severity of the termination could dictate your future career direction. Develop a proactive relationship with a recruiter; their expertise can be immeasurable.

Your strategy

Your mindset towards your search will be key in getting the job you want. Yes, this might be a “challenge,” rather than a “problem.” Here’s where we outline the positive approach you need:

  • Be honest as to why you have a gap on your CV. This will be the first question you are asked. If you are deceitful, it will be uncovered.
  • Build a bank of positive testimonials that underline your credentials.
  • Where do you want to work? Can some extra training help sharpen your skillset? Give it some thought.
  • Identifying the networking scene that can help you, so be resourceful. Be confident, be optimistic, be approachable.
  • Build your professional channel and ask for introductions.
  • Don’t wait for the phone to ring. Start promoting and marketing yourself as the highly capable professional you are, and make employers want to hire you.
  • Build relationships with professionals who could help your career, talk through your options and how to get your career back on track. Our team at MRK Associates are here to assist if you are looking for a finance, office or revenue management role. Follow industry leaders via their blog, read industry events and learn about the changes.

A gap in a CV is not the end of the world. Far from it. Any hiring manager or recruiter who overtly communicates that they don’t want to work with professionals who have gaps on their CV is not someone you want to connect with anyway. Such narrow-mindedness doesn’t have a place in 21st century workplaces. Focus and be prepared.

Good luck!

Roland Seddon, Managing Director, MRK Associates.

MRK Associates is a recruitment and career advisory company specialising in three distinct areas of professional employment – finance/accountancy jobs, office support/administration jobs and revenue management/yield jobs. Our main geographical focus is in the Northern Home Counties area (Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire) where we provide a personal, knowledgeable and professional service within these markets.

For more information, please telephone 01442 894555 or email: info@mrkassociates.co.uk

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